Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
To my daughter's high school programming teacher (usenix.org)
726 points by Anechoic 1477 days ago | hide | past | web | 578 comments | favorite



I feel for the daughter who (like many women before her) had a crappy experience in the male-dominated programming world. I feel for the parent who sees her daughter possibly reject a very fulfilling career path after a bad initial experience, when the future could be so much better. But as a former high school teacher, I also feel for the teacher. Giving them some benefit of the doubt, I just want to point out a couple things:

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.


I had people saying absolutely awful things to me in the middle of class, well within earshot of an authority figure who couldn't be arsed to do anything about it.

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.


> 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.


Every time someone drops the "generational breakdown of ethics" idea, I can't help but think that we really can't have fallen that much ethically when we used to have legal slavery, legal disenfranchisment of the poor, and so forth. On the other hand, in a lot of ways we have found more subtle and palatable ways for groups to seek power over others.

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.


I totally agree with your comment, one thing though

> 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).


The bullying took a sexist form. I don't care why, no female should ever be told they need to go to the kitchen and make sandwiches for the guys in a programming class.

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.


Do you know what it was like for the only guy in home ec? It is not a case of sexism, it has nothing to do with programmers (likely none of the students would identify with programmers at all). It is just normal bullying. The same kind that teenagers who are in a minority of some kind deal with all the time. Yes, it needs to be addressed. But pretending it is some other problem isn't going to help it be addressed.


I really have a hard time believing that anyone can think someone who says "make me a sandwich" isn't making a sexist remark. Don't get me wrong, I agree that in some contexts it can be given and received as a joke, but it is absolutely sexist.

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".


Nobody said the original case is OK. In fact, knowing in advance someone would advance that strawman, I preemptively addressed it in the post you replied to. I stated that it is bullying, not sexism. If you try to solve bullying by addressing sexism, you will fail.


>I stated that it is bullying, not sexism

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.


Saying "make me a sandwich" doesn't have power. The environment of "the majority are singling me out" is what has power, the words are quite literally irrelevant. Sexism would be if the boys in the class thought they were better than girls and thus a girl shouldn't be in the class. That is without a doubt not the motivation, but rather the standard "we can pick on this person so we will". There was only one girl in one of my programming classes too. She was part of the group picking on me, because the group felt I was an easier target. That really is the root of it, and attempting to address nonexistent sexism will not help solve it at all.


I can't agree with this line of reasoning. The words are not irrelevant. The words "make me a sandwich" aren't powerful because someone of the majority (in, say, a school context) said it, but because of the wider implication that that's a woman's place--making a sandwich for a man. In fact, these sorts of words can be used by people who have little power in a given context because they derive their power from the wider cultural norms. The power dynamics of whatever isolated group under consideration is what is irrelevant. The fact that they chose to bully her in that specific way indicates a sexist train of thought and that must be addressed separately from the issue of bullying. One can bully based on gender without it being sexist. This was not such a case and that fact is meaningful.


You are welcome to your opinion, but you aren't welcome to try to force me to accept it as fact. I've seen no evidence to support your interpretation, and all my experience has shown the opposite. What wider implications make the millions of other taunts adolescents hurl at each other effective? Have you spoken to a high school girl before? Do you actually think they believe there is some "woman's place" making a sandwich for a man? The majority of them think it is just something to say, like any other random taunt. Just because you want there to be sexism there, doesn't mean there actually is.


I, too, was a child, and so I have my own counter-anecdotes. Most taunts from kids don't have wider cultural implications. Sexist insults are an exception--as are racist insults, you certainly wouldn't be so dense as to claim that a kid calling another black kid a nigger derives its power from 4th-grade-power-dynamics would you?


That depends on the context. Believe it or not, plenty of kids of all colors have no idea what nigger means or why it is offensive. A white kid calling a black kid a nigger can be racism, or it can be that the kid has no idea what it means and also calls white kids and asian kids niggers too. That's really the very crux of the issue here, sexism is a motivation, it doesn't exist purely because the word sandwich is used. Just as the word nigger does not automatically mean racism is involved, racism is a motivation that could cause someone to use the word, but that doesn't mean you can extrapolate backwards and say there is always racism behind the word.


Your defense of your point is bordering on the absurd. Yes, its technically true that these things may not indicate racism/sexism is the motivation behind their usage, but the vast vast majority of their usages are derived from racist/sexist thoughts from the wider culture or in the individual themselves. This is even more true in the case of the word nigger. To offer your point as if it has any usefulness in practice is ludicrous.


Except that is exactly what is happening in the case the article presents.


And now we're back to the original point of contention.


First, I am glad that you agree that it needs to be addressed. If you disagree with everything else I think, we can at least agree on that.

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 don't think this story as anything to do with sexism in IT.

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.


Be that as it may, I think it's pretty likely the daughter thinks of the class as being representative the programming world.


Since she is "friend with a linux kernel contributor, and ARM developer, etc", I wouldn't be so sure about that...


But then there's all the women who take a programming class for the first time who aren't friends with industry experts. And even if this teenager is willing to give it another shot, I wouldn't blame her, or anyone, for feeling left out, and believing this is what the world of programmers is like.

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.


You know how it feels if people dissociate from you in high school becasuse you seem nerdy? It's such a joke that feminists now try to turn that on the head and claim those nerds prevented them from programming for sexist reasons.

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.


These girls weren't even in school when you were getting bullied, many of them weren't even alive. The 'nerds' in school weren't in school at the time, and probably weren't even alive.

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.


I was responding to a comment, not the article. Perhaps you should read the comment before judging my reply. As for the article here, I am not yet convinced her ordeal was really as bad as the mum-with-an-agenda writer describes it. Impossible to know without knowing more context.

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.


> 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.

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.


I think that if I were going to teach programming to high school kids I'd show them the console in Chrome / Safari, because it's something they all have easy access to (I assume we're talking about a first world country, right).

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.


I totally agree. But most high school computer teachers simply aren't that sophisticated. At the very least, the poor guy would need something like Dev Bootcamp or an intensive General Assembly course to even scratch the surface of modern software development. Who's paying for that? If this guy actually had modern software development skills, he's have the option of getting twice the pay of his current job of being a teacher/programmer/recruiter/promoter/psychiatrist/policeman/administrator/coach (possibly)/network admin (possibly)/ ... ad infinitum, and with a less critical audience of parents, students, and administrators.

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.


To each his own. I find web development(dynamic or just html/css) doesn't have the instant gratification something like VB has(it doesn't have to be VB). The main purpose of teaching programming to high-schoolers is to con them into learning it themselves. VB, despite its warts, was one of the most popular programming languages of its time. Excel and VB owe its popularity to the simple fact that they aren't hostile(or at least not as hostile as others) to newcomers.


I agree that VB's build-run-debug cycle is highly gratifying, but so is JavaScript's if properly taught, and it has the advantage of -- as I said -- being the underpinning of something they actually use.

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.


As someone who learned programming in VB, I agree with you. As a junior high kid I was able to make things from business calculators to arcade style games. Was my code great? NO. Was it hip and trendy? Back then... maybe, but no. Am I now a successful programmer "who knows better" with a degree/full time job/start up? Yes.

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 learned to program in school using BASIC on an Apple II, and it was great, but that doesn't mean I think this is the way to teach programming today. As recently as, say, 2000 desktop applications written in VB were kind of cool and relevant. Today: not so much. In 2000 the original writer's daughter would probably have bugged her for a Windows laptop and not a Macbook Pro.

> I'm trying to teach my girlfriend development and web development, it turns out, IS NOT a good place to start.

I totally agree, which is why I would teach Javascript, not web development.


And then what happens when they go "Ok, so... can I actually make anything with this? How would I use this in the real world?" Which is exactly what happened to me a week ago.

Then you're on the hook for "Well, first you'll have to learn HTML, then you'll have to learn how to access the HTML from javascript... then you'll have to learn CSS to actually make it not look embarassing." I SUPPOSE I could make my novice girlfriend write a backend server in node with her new found looping and if/else if skills.

I think once she gets the basics down I'm going to have to switch her over to objective-c, which is going to be a bitch but at least she can do something and see results. I love javascript, but it's not a fun and immediately rewarding experience like you get with a design->compile->run process.


>> 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.

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 has a responsibility to provide a safe environment THAT ENDS AT THE DOOR TO THEIR CLASS. If the harassment happened out of view, is the teacher still responsible? Are you responsible for harassment that takes place at your workplace outside your cubicle? 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. 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.


> The teacher has a responsibility to provide a safe environment THAT ENDS AT THE DOOR TO THEIR CLASS. If the harassment happened out of view, is the teacher still responsible? Are you responsible for harassment that takes place at your workplace outside your cubicle?

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?


>The author's daughter was harassed, and that is wrong. Full stop.

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".


> VB is a fine language to get children interested in programming.

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.


In re: bullying

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.


So, was this article about the student's experience or the mother's? Because it reads like it's about the mother. The guys in class suggested that their peer go make a sandwich. That's the only accusation actually made against the class and the teacher. While I don't endorse such teasing, it's certainly in no way specific to computer programming, and it's not anything like the intensity one would expect when trolls find an article.

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.


>It's hard to imagine that any rape joke would be allowed to fly in our classrooms where students can hardly wield pencils anymore,

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 agree. While gender-related issues in the software industry are important and worth talking about, this article seems to have pretty little justification.

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.


> 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.


>the takeaway is that high schoolers are dicks. //

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 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.


> 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.

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?


>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.


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why 16-year-old girls leave programming. Remember, guys ganging up on you and telling them to make them a sandwich is just funny! You're so thin-skinned, ladies! thought police!

http://hoydenabouttown.com/20110218.9512/sexist-joke-bingo/

...almost got bingo... good work, cookiecaper.


I didn't say it was funny or that being offended wasn't an OK response. I simply believe that we should handle potentially "offensive" situations wisely, instead of curling up and quitting. It is more than fine to voice your complaint and indicate that a so-called joke makes you uncomfortable and expect your peers to respect those feelings. It is also an effective requirement to recognize that you aren't always going to be able to get people to stop saying things you don't like, and that you can't let it cripple you.

And I only see hits in two squares on the "sexist joke bingo", not that it matters.


kaltai quite specifically called you out for the trope "you're so thin-skinned!". Quoth you:

> 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


Fine members of the audience, I give you the Myers Shuffle.

http://squid314.livejournal.com/329561.html

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?


>is just funny

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?


The post I was responding to did refer to the sandwich comment as a "joke" and jokes are generally defined to be "funny." I would not consider the sandwich comment a joke, myself, since it doesn't fulfill the criteria I have for a joke, but apparently the poster I was responding to does consider it a joke (even if not one he likes, per se). Thus to the poster it does fulfill the criteria for a joke, whether good or not, and thus it is not inaccurate to rephrase those criteria, including funniness.


The poster characterized it as a joke, but did not say that that excused it. Your reading of the post as defending every aspect of the situation is what I object 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.


that's the most PC thing I've seen all week.

and I mean that in the worst possible way.


> 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.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6358263


It's just an easy algorithm for detecting trite arguments! Makes some of these discussion more amusing for those of us who get to hear 'em a lot, and Lord knows we need some amusement.


I think we're evaluating the circumstances with different criteria. You're looking at the story and relating it to a thin-skinned woman who can't handle non-politically-correct humor in the workplace. I'm relating it to a 16-year-old kid who hasn't had the time or experience necessary to develop the thick skin and snappy retorts that would shield her from her peers' disrespect. She's not getting passed up for a promotion; she just wants to learn programming. It's entirely within the job description of a teacher to notice, step in, and set standards for behavior in the classroom. Even when they're not met, they communicate more than tacit acceptance of bad behavior.

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.


I agree with the thrust of your comment. But as a member of the "privileged majority" who did not have a safe learning environment for most of my school years, I'm tired of getting dumped on online and being told my experience is not valuable or valid in these discussions.

School sucks for nerdy white boys, too. Yes, I'd like to see a safe and healthy learning environment for everyone.


Thank you. If we accept discrimination of minorities as inevitable, then it will be.


Seriously, you can get fired for making the sandwhich joke? Sorry, but the US is really fucked up.


No, you can't. It's not that bad yet.


People can talk about how the real world is without endorsing it or thinking it should continue to be that way.

Do you understand the statement above? If not, I'll quit wasting my time.


She went off on some tangent about comments on an article she wrote - what the hell does that have to do with her daughter's computer programming class?

This was a rant about the mother's issues directed at a seemingly innocent teacher.

This article disgusted me.


There were no rape jokes in the classroom. The article mentions the author had comments in reply to another article she wrote.


Child gets bullied (shock horror), mother assumes it's sexism (it ain't, it's bullying. I'm a dude. Got bullied at high school. Does that make my tormentors homosexual autosexists?), rants.

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.


Two things stood out in particular: Bullying and sexism can coexist and feed off each other; and 'all men are rapists' feminists are actually extremely rare - far, far rarer than the 'man-children' you reference.


I sorry you had a bad school experience and absolutely agree with your point that things shouldn't improve and we should do nothing to help.


"We have to do something! This is something. Therefore we must do it."


... hello wilful misinterpreter? You don't fix a gas leak by buying a new sofa. I'm just saying that the thing being posed as an issue isn't the actual issue.


Your comment boils down to, "It was this way for me. Life's tough. Suck it 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"?


"Life's tough." is a truism, whining about it or demanding everyone "be nice" is fail. You have control over yourself, believing you have/can control others is delusional and dangerous (to society).

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.


This is fundamentally wrong. During development, security and self-confidence come from the environment you're brought up in.


Either you have serious reading comprehension issues, or you make a habit of deliberately misconstruing others statements - or you're a troll, and I'm stupidly feeding you.

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.


>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

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.


All bullying is based on traits that set you apart. People don't bully "one of the crowd". They bully the outliers, the different ones, the ones who are female, or fat, or thin, or clever, or stupid, or black, or white, or old, or young, or even the kid that wears last season's "cool clothes".

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.


>All bullying is based on traits that set you apart.

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.


That's a fair point, and I agree that in the circumstance due to the framing of the situation it could be more harmful - but it doesn't change the fact that the root cause is bullying.

We as a species have a remarkable proclivity to be very unkind.


The problem in and of itself is a valid problem that can be worked on. By lots of small, manageable efforts we can make the world a better place. Abstracting problems away - making them more generalised - only turns manageable problems into philosophical debates.

Btw, you need to get away from the habit of directly attacking the author and focus instead on attacking the argument.


Oh, pot, kettle! C'mon already.

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.


I don't understand your point. The syphilis example is, as you say a specific cure to a specific problem. Good. It's also good science. This is the opposite of what you were arguing earlier.


Your deliberate misrepresentation of the posts you are replying to is simply dishonest. There is no way for a constructive conversation to come out of that.


What?


It is about the student's experience reflected in the eyes of a mother. Parents are not known for their objectivity when it comes to children, but in this case the (rather far fetched) idea that the evil boys and their sandwich jokes made her daughter dislike programming found fertile ground in the whole "designated victim" narrative of women in online environments.

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.


This is a learning moment for you, Mr stefantalpalaru. What you've just said, although I know you meant it sanely and sensibly, has been interpreted as lacking in compassion. This is not your fault; what happened is you have made a comment from a position of unrecognised privilege. For your own good, and the good of any women you may have any kind of relationship with now and into the future, it would be a very good idea for you to read up on the concept of privilege, with an open mind. You will find it uncomfortable, and you will probably prefer to fight back rather than acknowledge a flaw in yourself, but in the long run it will prove to be the best thing to do, and you'll be glad you did.

Best wishes, and good luck!


If your goal is to increase the acceptance of women in the tech community, this post is very counterproductive.


Not at all! My goal is to respond to someone who is unkind with something close to kindness. If he goes on the way he has been, he'll do himself as much damage as he does to the people around him. The reasonable response to that sort of privileged blindness is anger; I was aiming for something a little more compassionate.

You, however, don't get the same consideration, because I strongly suspect you're a pillock.


It's probably safe to assume that you're parodying the nakedly Orwellian nature of third-wave feminists, but I'm going to respond just in case this is a serious post.

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.


Another apologist on HN, what a surprise.. Let me guess.. you are a white male. Nice. So am I. We have no idea what its like..

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: http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/09/hacker-faces-more-jail-time...

Inequality is all around us.


Oh dear. No help for you either, is there?


For reference, hacker789 repeated this comment here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6360113 where it attracted more attention.


You must have had one horrific childhood if your bar for "nothing wrong at school" is "no violence or rape". If you ever have kids, I hope you aim a little higher for them.


A school with "no violence or rape" wouldn't be just nothing wrong, it would be extraordinary. Even elite schools in developed and rich countries are filled with bullying: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/28/swedish-school-... Maybe you really ought to think about which school you went into in which neighborhood, which social clique you were a part of and if you still think no bullying happened, maybe it's time to think back on school and reevaluate some of your actions (hint: pranks and teasing might not be seen as that after all).


I read this comment as normalizing violence and rape - saying that it is expected, as a matter of course.

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 an all girls school, and while I'm sure there was bullying, there was definitely no violence or rape.


I feel like I should come to the defense of mixed-gender schools here a bit, even though I realize your comment doesn't necessarily advocate gender isolation (but it does sort of imply the benefits of it).

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.


I also went to school outside America, ten years ago. I don't have a decided opinion on mixed schools either way - there are definitely benefits to single sex education, but they need to be weighed against the artificiality of the environment, as you say. Its worth noting that many of the straight up academic benefits of gender separation appear to be stronger for girls - higher participation in STEM subjects, more participation in class, better performance in general - but there is some evidence that boys perform better academically with girls in the class. (this might be a little out of date, I am less interested in the theory of school since I left it myself). I got the impression that the idea was basically to reduce social distraction during school: one could always hang out with the opposite sex after school (and most people did).


Whenever the topic of K12 .edu comes up, two loud and inherently conflicting arguments always percolate to the top:

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,

or

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.


Although I'm not really sure why your defense of rape as normal high school experience managed to turn into a subtle accusation that I may have been a bully myself, and I probably should have ignored that.


It wasn't a subtle accusation, because in my experience people who say school violence doesn't happen or they never saw it happen are/were actually bullies themselves. This post just confirmed it with the nice twisting of words, 'defense of rape as normal high school experience', oh really?

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.


I think you may be using violence to mean any kind of bullying, which is a little vague. Teenage girls certainly engage in a lot of bullying, but very little physical violence, perhaps even less so in the rich private school environment I was in. I'm sorry you don't believe me. And I think claiming that not-rape would be extraordinary is pretty solidly in line with saying that rape is normal, yes.

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!


But there isn't a problem to solve for this community, because bullying isn't actually seen/acknowledged as a problem. Education officials are also only paying lip service and even that only after some very horrible case hits the newspapers and teachers are very underpaid for the amount of work they do. And the people who were bullied either won't get into any position of power with the capability to enact changes or are truly trying to forget it all.


Bullying is violence, and I wonder how you know there was no rape.


Bullying can be, but it isn't necessarily. Please don't trivialize real violence.


You're right, i completely discounted the possibility of female-female rape. I'm still pretty confident, but I take back the definitely. And I was using violence to mean physical injury, sorry if you were confused. I think it shouldn't be an unrealistic goal to have high schools where no one is raped or physically assaulted, I'm very confident i was at one, and I think that people who consider that so outlandish a suggestion that I must be an unwitting monster must have some sad backgrounds.


Well, since almost everyone else completely discounts the possibility of female-female rape - probably including the teachers at your school - I wouldn't be so confident. After all, how would you know?


And now I should apologize, because I realized I was thinking only of the student body when we did have some male teachers. So although I would be shocked to learn of any incidents, it is not as impossible as I said.


I was obviously referring to the starting lines:

> trigger alert

> (violence and rape references)

This is not Slashdot, you're supposed to read the article before commenting ;-)


It's not as much about "evil boys" in general, like other commenters have pointed out similar jokes are heard in all classes. But it's much harder when you're the only girl, guy, white kid, black kid, ect. Even if it's an innocent joke it starts a me against them mentality.


The entitled and largely unconscious male privilege in most of these HN comments is pretty hard to stomach against the large and steadily-accumulating picture of just how very different this industry presents itself to men and to women. Just because you don't directly experience or see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Just because you haven't been (consciously) chauvinistic to a woman doesn't mean women don't experience deep and pervasive chauvinism.

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.


So, you're saying that women need special treatment as the more delicately nurtured sex? I completely disagree. The tech environment is what it is, and I don't want to be treated differently than my male co-workers.

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.


So, you're saying that women need special treatment as the more delicately nurtured sex?

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.


Close the thread everybody, a token woman just invalidated the whole thing. No misogyny in tech. Also one time a black dude said "what racism? lol" so there's no racism.


Racism? What's that? Isn't that what Morgan Freeman said we need to ignore?


Have your male coworkers ever been threatened with rape? Have they ever been told to get back in the kitchen and make a sandwich?


> Have your male coworkers ever been threatened with rape?

Do you actually think they'd report it if they were?


I've always assumed rape in general is severely under reported. People are rarely treated in a sensible way when they make an accusation that could end a person's ability to lead a normal life even if they're found innocent.


Well said.

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 [1].

[1] http://letstalkbooksandpolitics.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-iro...


The danger of some meritocratic systems is that weak leadership will put up with bad behavior just because someone is clearly a star. "Yes, he's hard to work with, but the code would fall apart without him." This is even worse in finance. "We can buy off any kind of lawsuit, after all, he made us $50 million last year!"

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!


I tend to agree with the points you are making -- I certainly don't mean to derail this by a straw man argument, like it already happened above. But I think the importance of this particular incident is... well, somewhat overstated. Because:

> 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.


These two incidents are really nothing alike. I am a guy in a tech field surrounded by other guys and I imagine it would be very intimidating for a female colleague to be around us. It would take a lot more than this comment box to go into the details of why.


"We were a bunch of stupid fucks"..

Guess what? In High School many of us were quite together and tried our best to have fun while avoiding people like you.


I avoided high school entirely because of people like him.


That's exactly what we thought, too. We only understood we were a bunch of stupid fucks when we got older. We're all stupid when we're teenagers :-).


Thanks for writing this. I was thinking the same thing.

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.


I appreciate that sentiment, but to be honest, even most adults pressed into that kind of environment would not do well. Remember as an adult you are granted the autonomy to get away from unpleasant situations, and if not that, then the tools to resolve issues fairly.

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.


When your kid feels harassed and bullied telling them to just "have thicker skin" is not going to cut it.


Of course not, but bringing the gender equality into discussion is pointless. Teenagers find any reason for bullying. I was bullied for having a lazy eye and enjoying baroque music back when everyone my was hooked up on Smooth Criminal. My cousin had her share of it because she played the drums (how unthinkable for a woman!)

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.


i completely disagree that it's pointless to bring up. That is the entire point. Yes, kids say stupid things, but part of the job of the adults in their life should be to help them see why those things are stupid and learn to not act so horribly as "a joke" so they don't grow up to get up on stage and pretend to jerk off at a tech conference.


Hmmm, I don't remember saying that.

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.


You should give an example of what would cut it.


This is a high school class, not the tech industry. You can't blame the tech industry when a bunch of highschoolers act like idiots just because the class they did it in happened to be a programming class. If they had done the same thing in a Algebra class would you be writing a rant about how we need to fix the rampant misogyny in math?


If it happened frequently enough, sure.

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.


But that's the thing, every time someone does something misogynistic that's even remotely connected to tech in any way we get a storm of "stop the rampant misogyny in tech" rants and comments, never a "stop the rampant misogyny in the USA/UK/Western World/Whatever". I don't see this as a tech problem, and blaming the tech sector for it is a cop-out. If there genuinely is a larger problem with society as a whole, that's where it needs to be addressed, picking on one subset of the larger group because you can't constructively offer any suggestions for how to fix the larger problem isn't useful.

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


Sure, there's general misogyny and all that, but just browse the rest of this thread if you don't think that the tech industry has a disproportionate amount. HN is one of the worst offenders, as a matter of fact.

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.


I'm not even going to bother with your first point, particularly as it isn't really a point per say and I don't think anything constructive will come of it. Your second point on the other hand, that has some meat to it. I've said several times in the past now that the low representation of women in tech is the fault of the media and our school systems, and to a very small extent this article demonstrates that.

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?


The reason we people in tech are trying to stop discrimination in tech is that -- surprise -- we work in tech. Just because people around the world litter is no reason not for me to pick up trash on my street.

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.


Two things. First, it's fine to try to stop discrimination in tech in the general sense, but it shouldn't be framed as a problem specifically with tech, doing so narrows the focus to the point at which it can't actually address the general problem only very specific limited instances. Secondly, you're confusing two different issues, the gender imbalance in tech, and gender based discrimination in tech. While it's true there is a gender imbalance in tech, I do not accept that it's being caused by gender discrimination in tech. Yes, discrimination does sometimes occur, however I don't believe it's much more prevalent in tech than it is in any other industry. The gender imbalance and media stereotypes around tech have an amplifying effect, not to mention being a significant minority in any situation tends to lead to being singled out and marginalized (human nature). If you want to fix tech, then fix the media stereotypes and more importantly the poor quality of tech education in schools, the rest will work itself out as the gender imbalance is equalized. As for the more general problem on misogyny in all parts of life, I'm not sure how best to fix that, biggots of all kinds exist everywhere, I do my best to avoid them whenever possible (in the rare cases where I'm actually in charge of them I'd set them straight with what's acceptable, but that rarely happens).


You seem to have a lot of theories on how other people should be solving the problem. What specifically are you doing to solve the problem?

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.


I already told you what I was doing, which is pretty much everything I can. Being that I'm not management, don't run a company, don't have anyone reporting to me, and am generally low man on the totem pole what I can actually do is fairly limited. Further limiting that is the fact that as I said, I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with the tech industry that's actually a fault of anything the tech industry is doing and as such changing things in the industry will have no impact at all on the problem. If I was someone in charge of education policy, or had any kind of pull with the media I might be in a position to do something, but I'm not. I also can't do anything about the war in Syria, the crazy politics over in the middle east in general, or Russia's stance on gay rights, and frankly I don't see where wringing my hands about it and making a bunch of pointless rants on the internet is going to do any good either.

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 can only really think of two ways of understanding the extreme gender imbalance in these jobs. Either there are systemic discriminatory forces at work, or women are somehow inherently ill-suited for programming jobs (ie. because of cognitive deficiency).

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?


"cognitive deficiency"??? Please consider the possibility that just because someone else's mind doesn't excel in the same way yours does, it doesn't necessarily mean their mind is deficient! I believe your choice of words demonstrates well the bias that is at the root of the problem we are discussing.

IMO nerd superiority is the most unbecoming pervasive trait found in the tech industry.


I think you may have missed my point; I think the idea that women have any sort of cognitive deficiency is absurd. I believe that the reason there are so few women in tech has to do with systemic disincentives, rather than that they "aren't good at it" or "don't like it."


I see. I'm sorry that I misunderstood you.


> I can only really think of two ways of understanding the extreme gender imbalance in these jobs. Either there are systemic discriminatory forces at work, or women are somehow inherently ill-suited for programming jobs (ie. because of cognitive deficiency).

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...


That's not really a theory, you're just deferring the question. Why wouldn't women be interested in this kind of profession? Do women not like comfortable, creative, high-paying jobs with lots of perks?


> That's not really a theory, you're just deferring the question.

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?


I don't really understand what you're trying to say. Unless you have a compelling idea about why having been born a woman makes you not want the best available job in the current economy, what are we even talking about?


One theory is that people are continually told to follow their dreams/passion/desire. If you have no passion for computers, programming, math, etc... Why would they choose programming if they've been raised to think 1. they can do anything and that the recipe for success is to follow your passion and dreams?

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.


Same question: what makes you think just being a woman would make you less likely to be passionate or dream about building things with computers? If your theory is true, I'd assume its because young women are socialized to think that such dreams are not for them, and because, for example, they lack female role models to identify with, not because there is some inherent contradiction between femininity and computers.


> I don't really understand what you're trying to say. Unless you have a compelling idea about why having been born a woman makes you not want the best available job in the current economy, what are we even talking about?

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.


You're getting bogged down I think. No one is talking about what's "possible." Theories don't become competitive by virtue of being hypothetically capable of being offered— you have to actually advance them and argue them. My supposition about two theories is based on common knowledge rather than some abstract analysis about the nature of possible arguments.

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?


Agreed. But why are things the way they are and how do we progress from there?

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.


How "offputting" the field is to women is not, IMO, as problematic as the fact that many girls are discouraged in school, by their teachers from pursuing math or science fields, simply because they're girls.

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.

... IMO.


I manage a team that includes several women. Not saying completely ignorant stuff like "shut up and make me a sammich" is easy. It's my potential for unconscious chauvinism that worries me a great deal.


I asked my absolutely brilliant coed what does she thinks about the whole "sexism in tech" thing. She told me to read less Hacker News and work on my thesis.

So I'll just leave this bingo in case you got bored in this thread: http://bit.ly/16i7WAm


> Just because you haven't been (consciously) chauvinistic to a woman...

The implication of your parenthetical being that all men have been unconsciously chauvinistic at some point?


WeWe need to fix it, and congratulate only after we fix it.

But it's far from a fixed problem currently.


We must protect the fairer sex at all costs.

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. 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.

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.


We must protect the fairer sex at all costs.

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.


It is a straightforward strawman. Nowhere to I state or even hint that I consider women to be somehow more delicate or otherwise inferior to men. The point I'm making is that what women experience in this industry is vastly different from what men experience, and far too many men still refuse to acknowledge this (or indeed, actively defend and perpetuate it).


He didn't literally use those words, and my intent wasn't to trick anyone into thinking he was literally using those words.


I really can't tell if you're trolling or not.

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.


>It's shocking that there were politicians who believed so strongly that women should be second class citizens that they filibustered the bill.

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.


>So how do you feel about all the women who opposed it?

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'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.


One issue has nothing to do with the other. Why is it when some minority group (in this context women) tries to address the causes of their underrepresentation there are always people that responds with some version of: "you already have it soooo good why can't you just be happy". I see this same pattern when it comes to issues regarding race/gender/sex orientation. Nothing less than full equality will ever be acceptable.

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.


ALL of your comments are about men's rights. I think I should make some writeup for responses to MRAs, similar to how you have done for responses to feminist sentiments, because I think I understand the worldview and bought into it myself for a long time. Of course the response might not be perfect this time around, but I can perfect it incrementally.

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."


Overall, I don't disagree with much of what you said.

> 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?


I don't really read feminism websites, but I took a quick look at Jezebel, Feministe, and Geek Feminism, and I didn't notice any bigotry against men. Would you mind pointing some examples out? It is indeed a problem if they are bigoted against men/hate men, but I didn't see it at a glance.


In addition, it may not be in said "feminists" best interest to label themselves as feminists. Marketing means a lot, and if feminism isn't exclusively about women and rather about gender equality, then "genderism" or "gender egalitarianism" is far more appropriate and inclusive.


TERFs go way beyond Tumblr, and the fact you likely don't know what TERF means is a big part of the problem.


I am very aware of TERFs, and I even referenced them in a post several weeks ago.


"silence specific demographics"

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?


> This use of "privilege" as a targeted weapon to silence specific demographics has to stop

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/


At what point does it become ok to harass and threaten this "privileged" group of people?


Never, but seriously as soon as I hear typical combinations of the words white male cis privilege I instantly write off the person using it as hopelessly deluded. These are dog whistles for social justice warrior ideologies and everything they imply.

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.


I don't even...

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?


I'm annoyed (not offended) by referring to it as privilege. To me it suggests that the "non-privileged" are being treated exactly as they should be, and the "privileged" have been elevated in some way.

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.


What the fuck is so "horrendously offensive" about the obvious truth that some classes of people have advantages that others don't?


THe words privilege and advantage aren't really interchangeable.


I knew there was something that was bothering me about the way they abuse the word privilege, I just couldn't put my finger on it, thanks for pointing that out.


http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/privilege

> 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.


The fundamental difference is that a privilege is something given while an advantage can be something inherent. Privilege isn't something you're born with, it's something someone else has given you (and there's a strong implication of it being earned rather than simply handed out). Language is important, it does no one any good to try to subvert a word to a new and contradictory use because it paints your argument in a better light because of its existing connotations which do not apply.

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 definition I provided, the first definition listed for the word in that particular dictionary, does not say anything about privileges having to be granted by anyone. It's like peeving about "color" vs. "colour" - you're free to insist that one is more correct than the other, but it's quite a waste of efforts, especially since, if you bothered to try, you'd find it quite impossible to come up with an objective basis for your opinion.


The dictionary does not capture the full context of a word, only by using it regularly and being exposed to its usage in literature and speech can the full context of it be appreciated. The closest you can come to that from a dictionary definition is to combine all the definitions provided and consider them as a whole, not as disconnected pieces.

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.


It's so irritating I pretty much tune out whenever the word comes up. And then there is the oxymoronic 'underprivileged' to contend with.


That you shut yourself out of the conversation on social inequality because you don't like the words is childish and callous.



oh so it's 'the' conversation, is it

it's not a case of not liking the words, it's a case of not liking underhand word games in serious debates


I find it thoroughly depressing that your comment is currently fourth from the top. I can only hope it's been dragged along based on its parent's votes.


I know I shouldn't respond to the troll, but here goes.

> 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.


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.

Why do you have to make your points while simultaneously being a complete douche about them? Personal attacks on HN, on purpose?


Did you read the grandparent post? Bringing up complete strawmen, making vague censorship claims, making off-topic arguments about "well, men have it tough too in these other cases, so really men are the victims", and so on.

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?


> I'm not really clear on what you mean by "hyper-privileged".

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.


Sure, you can always find someone who you are privileged relative to. Why does that matter?

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.


> Sorry, no specific demographic is being "silenced" here. If you think that men are being silenced, well, why are you able to speak?

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.


> The verb "silence" is not restricted to scenarios in which someone is rendered literally incapable of speech. It never has been.

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.


> Wait a minute. Are you actually aligning yourself with the anti-suffrage movement? Are you serious?

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.


No, I am not taking responsibility for an imaginary problem. You don't get to tell the world they have to cater to your delusions. Do you know what I hear about this issue from my wife? Variations on "What alternate reality are these people living in?". The only sexism she has experienced is the sort you are displaying: the "lets fall all over ourselves protecting the delicate ladies from the horrors of nothing" sort. She doesn't want to be a female programmer, she wants to be a programmer. Constantly making a fuss about an irrelevant detail like her gender is alienating, not helpful. You are making the field off-putting to her, not the evil chauvinist boogeymen she has never seen.


> No, I am not taking responsibility for an imaginary problem.

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.


>Are you claiming that the original authors daughter was imagining her classmates bullying her?

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.


OK. Let's start from the beginning. The post you are replying to was a reply to the general tenor of a lot of posts, like yours, in this kind of thread. Posts which try to deny that there's a real problem, that the only reason that there aren't as many women in tech is that they have chosen not to.

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.


>Anecdotes like the original article, as well as many others that have come before, demonstrate that there is a real problem.

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?

http://www.dailymotion.com/playlists/user/BrainwashingInNorw...

>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?


> 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.

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.

> http://www.dailymotion.com/playlists/user/BrainwashingInNorw...

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:

http://web.archive.org/web/20070503012914/http://headrush.ty...

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:

https://adainitiative.org/2012/08/defcon-why-conference-hara...

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:

http://www.nber.org/papers/w15853.pdf

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.


You can't complain that my evidence isn't an academic citation, and then post even worse as your evidence. You are jumping to a conclusion, and I am saying the hypothesis you should be testing doesn't appear to be true. But since you skipped the testing the hypothesis step and went straight to a conclusion, you find this offensive and unimaginable. 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.


What part of my evidence do you consider worse? The evidence of actual women who have avoided conferences because of harassment? Or you mean a paper that actually gathers statistics that demonstrate that women are more likely to leave male-dominated fields than ones which have a more even gender distribution?

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.


On the flip side, the people on your side need to stop thinking privilege is absolute instead of relative to context, and stop imagining that individuals can be judged based on what group they've placed them into. Yes, even if those things are true statistically, that doesn't make them true for every individual.

Also, feminists need to stop being so fucking transphobic. It's a major issue and it is not being addressed.


I cringe reading this.

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...

--edit-- 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.


Two things:

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.


When this child grows up, there will be no parent to write a blog post. My point being, we all have to learn to navigate this difficult world. Stern letters from mom eventually have to stop.


The mother is not paying this school to give her child a lesson in how to deal with bullying. She is paying to allow her daughter to learn programming.

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.


When? Is it never ok to defend your kid? Or is there an age cutoff?

Because it seems to me one of the primary functions of a parent, right alongside teaching them to make it in the world.


It needs to decrease over time. This girl is at the end of her high school experience, she should be handling social interactions with her peers on her own.


The first point is actually ambiguous. I think she made the 'offer' to her daughter, who insisted that her mother should actually not interfere.


One time in college, I went to a busy ice cream restaurant with some friends of mine (Fenton's in Emeryville).

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.


> 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.

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...


You're right. Well, maybe -- I'm not agreeing that obesity slams are on the same level as racial slurs, but what I wrote was needlessly offensive and I can understand that it was hurtful to some others. I apologize to you and anyone else, I could have written the story without those references and the point would still remain. I should have known better.


> 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...


Being fat is an unhealthy choice. Slanteyes and niggers are born that way and remain that way no matter how much they diet.


Seriously? You should be thanking the large, smart man for teaching you the correctness of a wise set of rules designed to maximize the number of people who can use the limited number of seats in a popular fast food joint. Unless you called ahead and made a booking, you had no right to reserve those seats and inconvenience all the other people (including said gentleman and his family) looking for a seat.


A) I was in college then. I'm inclined to agree with the reasoning you gave here now.

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.


From your telling of the story, he was referring to the set of unwritten rules that I personally refer to as "the social contract," which you absolutely broke by selfishly reserving a table ahead of a family that, by your own admission, had their ice cream and was ready to eat before you were.


> the reason he gave was that it was against "the rules"

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.


You are really inconsiderate. And way to be a bully and pick on their weight because you didn't get your way.


Oh fuck yourself.

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.


This post REALLY isn't going like you thought it would, is it?


I think your comment reveals more about you than me. Do you think people only post to flatter their own egos, or that the purpose of posting is vanity? Going by votes, many more people find my comment helpful, additive or interesting than those who had some criticism.

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?


> Going by votes, many more people find my comment helpful, additive or interesting than those who had some criticism.

Everyone on this site can upvote, but not everyone can downvote, so this is not necessarily true.

Oh, also, you're an ass.


You already admitted you were wrong. No need to swear, be petulant and be even m o r e wrong, but in a different way.


I've been a jerk plenty of times, and those are my problem and I feel badly about them. I try to be a better person through introspection, patience, and humility.


The system doesn't work if everyone reserves a table, it really grinds my gears when people do that in fast food joints etc. You don't need the table at that moment, people don't take long to eat there, you're bringing down the efficiency of the place by doing that.

(sorry, pet hate...)


What if everyone sat at the table and one person ferried the money and ice cream back and forth from the counter? Would that be better? Actual utilization of the table for eating is still zero, and the table is still engaged for the same length of time.

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.


It's every bit as irritating, not that I would bother to confront anyone over it, it's not worth the effort. Still rude though.

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.


I get it, I really do. But if you want to stop being annoyed about this, just realize it's the norm and do it yourself. It's definitely a waste of time/vibes to be irritated about other people doing it. It's not like a grave moral issue or something. The world is full of inefficiencies and stuff to be annoyed with and a lot of them aren't actually a big deal. :)


It's not the norm, though. Not here in the UK where queuing is basically a religion.

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.


funny, you're mad because he broke your untold rule on method of reservation, on basis of his untold rule on method of reservation? And why is this particular anecdote constructive to the discussion, in any way?

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.


One, there was one open table, they had purchased their ice cream and were entitled to a table before you do. You don't "call shotgun" on tables. So what, the family who has their ice cream has to stand now while you wait in line (during which time another table may clear by then that you can sit at).

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.


It's amusing to me that you find this extremely insignificant story worthy of mention on HN in a thread where it's not even tangentially relevant.

P. S. He was right. No way that shit counts.


Right. So how did you react? Did you have your mom write the family a letter? Post it to tumblr? Write an angry post about the poor management of the restaurant? Or did you handle the situation as an adult and move on with your life?


And if it were women, they'd harangue you for your use of "jacket" as a metaphorical sexual slur.


Speaking as a teacher, I would love to get detailed feedback from a parent regarding their perception of my classroom environment.

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.


> While I was attending SC '12 in Salt Lake City last November, my daughter emailed to tell me that the boys in her class were harassing her. "They told me to get in the kitchen and make them sandwiches," she said.

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.


Kids say terrible things. This isn't the sign of a bad teacher or a worthy of a internet rant, it's an opportunity to prepare her kids (Not just the girls) for the real full-contact brutal reality known is the the real working world.


Oh.

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?


I'm pretty sure the general consensus is that if you're female and you want to speak up about feeling belittled or harassed, the problem is in you, and we will gladly tell you that you need to stop bringing this subject up because we are so darn tired of hearing people like you try to bring us down.

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?


When does any male get an audience for whining? If anything there is a huge social stigma against men complaining about anything because of their "privilege."


While it's sexist, it's also a form of bullying. Bullying is generally punished in schools.

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."


> Bullying is generally punished in schools. Missing citation.


If you graduated from high school more than three to five years ago, you missed it, but there's been a huge uptick in formal efforts to end bullying in the United States, and especially California.

I can't really speak to efficacy, but a formal accusation of bullying is a big deal these days.

http://www.stopbullying.gov/


What kind of relationship do you have with your kid that she has to tell you important information like this via email? Does she have a dad? I am guessing NO? Honestly, just the fact that the OP is writing the letter after the class is over, rather then confronting the teacher during the class does not sound right to me at all.


How is the presence of a father relevant? The mother was away at a conference, possibly in a different time-zone or otherwise not contactable. Email seems perfectly reasonable to me.


The girl does a lot to please her mother and chooses to communicate about important subjects over email.

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.


It is a long road between becoming a parent, and having a kid in high-school. Parenthood sometimes doesn't play out exactly how you thought it would.


> How is the presence of a father relevant?

If modern society has taught men anything, it is never relevant.


It's not whether the author is going too far as a parent, but that that she is not handling the situation appropriately. She showed bad faith by not ever actually talking to the teacher. She sat and accumulated complaints about this class only to blast the teacher on the internet after the fact. That's not productive and it betrays intentions other than helping her daughter succeed.


She - the writer is a woman.


My mistake. I would edit it but I don't see an edit button.


> Life gets waaaay harder that this.

In my experience, life gets much better after the end of high school, because in my experience, adults don't bully adults [1]. And if you are bullied, you can generally leave.

[1] except the TSA, NSA, IRS, CIA, etc., but that's a different issue


>In my experience, life gets much better after the end of high school, because in my experience, adults don't bully adults [1]. And if you are bullied, you can generally leave.

In my experience, life does get better but also one's ability to handle bullying gets better which leads to less bullying.


If the most adversity you experience in life is high school you're either very fortunate or very unfortunate, hard to say which.


I've experienced a lot of adversity. But at least as an adult you can do something about it.


"The World" is not this static, unchanging place where everyone has to be a dick, and all you can do is learn from the school of hard knocks.

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.


Hello? Why would it not be ok to tell a teacher how to do their job when they're clearly failing at it? Who, exactly, is the customer here?

My only complaint about the article is that it did not name the teacher or the school. Public shaming can work wonders.


Public shaming seems extremely excessive when this teacher is just a symptom of the real problem. The real problem here is that we don't fund schools well enough to reduce the class sizes to the point where her suggestions are reasonable. Her suggests would be great in a world of 10 student classrooms - and that is a world that we CAN MAKE HAPPEN. If we were willing to loosen our wallets.

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.


Be carefull with the rage. See my comment. Basically, we don't know the whole story. All we know was she was bullied, she got A, the teacher didn't notice, and the mother didn't talk to the teacher and here we are reading her post publicly. Well, she got A. That's all we know. Did she behave differently in her clasroom after the incident? Say, shown more aggressive behavior or come to class with a sad face? No. The article did not say that. Can we see it is possible that the daughter carried a fake smile to class and because her performance fooled the teacher? Don't jump to the table without facts from both sides.


As a teacher, I know that it is the job of a teacher to do better. Allowing an environment that takes engaged, bright students and grinds them down is in fact a failure to do a teacher's job: classroom management is tied with content delivery in a high school teacher's job description. Yes, there are many bad teachers, but why do you excuse doing bad work, essentially arguing that wasting kids' time and potentially doing them damage is just good preparation for the real world?


Did the student tell the teacher? Did the parent tell the teacher? From the story I get the impression that no one actually brought this issue to the teachers attention. The only context we have is that the parent offered to talk to the teacher for the daugher. The daughter declined and just put up with it for the rest of the year and avoided her classmates.

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.

More

Applications are open for YC Winter 2018

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

Search: