I'm not sure what people expect, exactly. Is pg supposed to give up all his worldly goals and possessions and live as some sort of equality monk? Should he know of and contribute to every one of the many groups and organizations involved in gender equality?
And what exactly is wrong with the "I have black friends" defense? Are you trying to say that pg is friends with someone in spite of his supposed hateful nature? That he's somehow looked past the person's "shortcomings"?
It seems to me more people are interested in being internet bullies than achieving true social justice.
If you look at the comments below, the anti-PG crowd seems either to a) not care about YC's contributions to women in tech, or b) adopt a "so what" attitude. So what that YC has a disproportionate amount of women in high places and funds a disproportionate amount of female founders? I don't care, instead I'm gonna pick out some logical flaws in his arguments. (As an aside, there's few things more tedious than a nerd on the Internet concerned with "logical flaws" in peoples' "arguments".)
"Leftists may claim that their activism is motivated by compassion or by moral principle, and moral principle does play a role for the leftist of the oversocialized type. But compassion and moral principle cannot be the main motives for leftist activism. Hostility is too prominent a component of leftist behavior; so is the drive for power. Moreover, much leftist behavior is not rationally calculated to be of benefit to the people whom the leftists claim to be trying to help. For example, if one believes that affirmative action is good for black people, does it make sense to demand affirmative action in hostile or dogmatic terms? Obviously it would be more productive to take a diplomatic and conciliatory approach that would make at least verbal and symbolic concessions to white people who think that affirmative action discriminates against them. But leftist activists do not take such an approach because it would not satisfy their emotional needs. Helping black people is not their real goal. Instead, race problems serve as an excuse for them to express their own hostility and frustrated need for power. In doing so they actually harm black people, because the activists' hostile attitude toward the white majority tends to intensify race hatred."
I think the aim of making the tech industry friendlier to women is better served by continued outreach efforts, rather than making an example out of individuals arbitrarily.
But good job applying it to all leftist activism. By quoting the Unibomber. Because the Unibomber has done so much more for the cause of women and blacks than have left-wing activists.
That is to say, I'm not interested in going all anti-leftist and turning things into politics. You have me mistaken.
Judge the quote on its content, not the messenger. The only instance in which shooting the messenger is valid is when we rely on the messenger's credibility in evaluating the opinion, which is not the case here, at least for me.
In other words, it's content that wouldn't look at all out of place on a right-leaning website's "This is why liberals are bad" section.
> The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.
Dr. Kaczynski is an anarchist who opposes virtually all political establishments.
Much unlike the other one which implies that leftists are all about power as opposed to what they say they are.
"Psychological assessment of the unabomber"
Here are the first few parts of the text
>"Dr. Sally C. Johnson's psychological report describes Theodore Kaczynski, the confessed Unabomber, as a man whose early brilliance was ruined by paranoid schizophrenia.
>"Johnson made her evaluation after interviewing Kaczynski, his family and people who knew him, analyzing psychological tests, and studing of the Unabomber's journals which document over 40 years of his life."
>"She cites "an almost total absence of interpersonal relationships," and "delusional thinking involving being controlled by modern technology" as examples of his illness."
below is a commentary by Paul Cooijmans on the report itself
you might as well read that if you are lazy
If so, this would have been a likely explanation for his chosen direction.
The problem is with priviliged upper middle class white PC police, that are nothing like MLK -- and their "rage" is all show off and conforming to the social norms of their peer group.
Q: How many times was Dr. King arrested?
A: He was arrested 30 times.
Or go read Letter From a Birmingham Jail: http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.h...
It was a letter rooted in anger: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/16/us/king-birmingham-jail-letter...
In it, he writes: "Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word 'tension.' I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth."
And of course part of what helped MLK's public standing was that there were much more radical people than him. Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam shifted the Overton Window enough that MLK could look reasonable.
My point here is that social change is never comfortable, never easy, and certainly never welcomed by the bulk of the privileged group. Asking activists to be quieter and nicer is pointless; they already know what that gets them, which is being ignored. Which they've already had a bellyful of, or they wouldn't be activists.
People forced Paul Graham to confront the issue. And as he's a visible leader of the startup community, they're forcing everybody to confront it. Will that alienate some number of people? Sure. Would they have been advocates for change anyhow? Nope.
Ask yourself: what did those "more and more resentful" people look like in the civil rights era? Now ask yourself: is that the group you'd like to be remembered as being a part of?
The number of arrests have much more to do with the type/style of protest that they engaged in than it has to do with some nebulous concept of "social behaviour". The reason why MLK and his followers were confident that their tactics would lead to success is because they could force arrests for plainly absurd and not anti-social actions. Force arrests while "behaving well". Instead of getting arrested for smashing police cars, or firebombing businesses owned by racists, they got themselves arrested for things like sitting in a restaurant.
Perfectly as in "perfectly good in my books", not perfectly legal or Mother Teresa like.
In fact in my very next sentense I lament that they present him as much more timid for how dynamic he was.
Heck look at the last part of the post and you can see how certain subjects are a complete mindfield with one badly phrased term being pushed thru the descrimination door when not intended. Fact that so many people were asked by PG to check out the draft before posting is testiment to how much overhead is now placed upon those who will at best descriminate individuals to to that individuals actions and then after that individual proving the point many times over and given fair appeal. In short the types of people who only judge the guilty on a person by person basis based upon the actual 100% facts now spend more of there time treading other peoples minefeild that it becomes a overhead and distraction to the tasks at hand. Hell 19 people checked thru that draft (many women as well and no I have not counted how many women compared to men checked the draft as it is irrelevant too me, though some will I bet now). 19 people, that is a lot of people to have for a internet post, I bet even top News Papers have never had that many editors checking a post before (lawyers maybe) and that is all due to people being offended for things that were not intended. It is a mindfeild, it is a overhead and it is a measurable expense many people now have added to the time sinks in there lifes. Innocent non-sexist descriminating people are the ones that suffer, but hey the good `person` always suffers, is that not true :(.
"Thanks to Sam Altman, Alexandra Cavoulacos, Adora Cheung, Tracy Chou, John Collison, Patrick Collison, Danielle Fong, Kevin Hale, Aaron Harris, Elizabeth Iorns, Carolynn Levy, Jessica Livingston, Claire McDonnell, Kat Manalac, Kathryn Minshew, Kirsty Nathoo, Geoff Ralston, Garry Tan, and Olga Vidisheva for reading drafts of this." Would be nice if he added "And no lawyers were harmed in the process of this checking" Just for some sainity of this whole area and would highlight the whole overhead aspect in many other area's of life we see today. Patent Trolls, PC bullying and the like, its a time TAX nobody needs and yet we live it, least the honest good people do.
PG went on the defensive -- and attempted to dispel critiques with a negative attitude and a logical argument.
This isn't a problem you can logic away. What he needed to do was write from the perspective of social conscience, even if it's not logical, even if it's not strictly absolutely statistically true. He needed to prove that he is coming from a genuinely positive point of view, so that we can see that his great influence is not aimed simply toward the neutral or equal, but in fact good.
He failed to do this, and therefore he receives criticism. The arguments against him are focused on the wrong things, because they're not very self-aware, but they're fundamentally correct in the big picture.
There's a difference between simple absence of evil, tactless neutrality, and genuine good. We like to hope our idols and influences are as far toward the good as possible.
Trying to defend yourself or setting the record straight is almost useless when everyone's already made up their mind before entering the debate, especially here where there is this odd presumption that PG et al are money-grubbing fools willing to sacrifice their morals. No benefit of doubt is given. I've met PG briefly, have been to Startup Schools and can say that all the YC folk I've met seem like genuinely great people. Unfortunately, I don't have a citation handy.
This place as usual reads like a den of rabid pussycats.
Well, guess what? pg is his own person. He's just a guy who invests in startups, not some sort of idol upon whom you can project all your transformational, social-justice dreams for the tech industry.
Is there racism and sexism in tech? Sure. Is that pg's fault? No. Has he done things to mitigate this? Sure. Are the "social justice jihadis" appreciative of this? No.
The cashier at the local taco shop speaks to people in Spanish or English depending on whether or not they look Mexican. Is that a problem? I don't think so.
Let's say you give a Hindi greeting to an Indian guy who's second-generation American and doesn't speak Hindi. What's the worst that can happen? Well, if he's a SJW he'll spread your name on the internet as a "racist asshole". But if he's a normal person, you get past the misunderstanding quickly, and plus he knows that you know enough about his culture to have learned its language, and he might even appreciate that.
Our primate relatives are racist and sexist. What makes us think that we can not be?
Pretending to ignore race/sex differences out of some misguided attempt to be polite or "color blind" or "culturally neutral" does no one any good.
By "racist", I mean "actually despises others because of their ethnic background", not "has the odd awkward or confusing moment of ethnic / cultural misunderstanding".
Similarly, by "sexist", I mean "actually dislikes or has contempt for the opposite sex".
Of course the bar for these words has been raised to the point where the political Left can call someone a racist because they do not support a specific affirmative action policy, or a sexist because they disbelieve certain cooked-up statistics about the alleged "pay gap" between men and women.
I don't think we can assume that is the case if we are using the "power + prejudice" definition of racist or sexist. As far as I can tell, this is the prefered definition of racist and sexist among social justice warriors. If to be racist you must be prejudiced and have power over those that you are prejudiced against, then there are some people who literally cannot be racist.
Typically this definition seems to only be used to shield SJWs from 'friendly fire'.
That's because it's easy. The "sexism-accusers" don't have to do anything themselves to fight sexism. Anything concrete I mean.
It's enough that they voice their anger and point their finger to this or that scapegoat (and ocassional real offender), and they can feel good, nay, champions of equality.
Plus, they have all their similar minded peers to high five, usually all people of upper middle class upbringing, that are oh so sensitive and oh so beautiful souls that even overhearing a guy telling a "dongle" joke in private to his friend can make them feel enraged -- until is time for their fair trade coffee break that is.
That leaves pg to prove a negative.
I'm one of those rage-queens you so happily deride here. I know it myself. I became one after I complained about a manager openly discriminating against gay employees and having everyone involved in the complaint, except for the manager in question, mysteriously being let go in the three months that followed.
Plenty of those "sexism-accusers" probably have similar stories so, pardon my language, but go fuck yourself for pretending we're all just some spoiled middle class rage warriors.
>Plenty of those "sexism-accusers" probably have similar stories so, pardon my language, but go fuck yourself for pretending we're all just some spoiled middle class rage warriors.
No, those are different people you describe -- actual humans.
The pg-incident style outrage is not done by this kind of people, but by finger-pointers and "champions for the cause" with ideological blinders.
In my experience, it's mostly the overpriviled that champion such things -- the actual victims and women who try to empower themselves and move things forward pick fights that actually matter.
>I'm one of those rage-queens you so happily deride here. I know it myself. I became one after I complained about a manager openly discriminating against gay employees and having everyone involved in the complaint, except for the manager in question, mysteriously being let go in the three months that followed.*
Which sounds valid, but is quite different, I think you'll agree, to the kind of pg-gate/dongle-gate/upper-middle-class-drama incidents people make a fuss about.
I think you just proved my point. So sexual discrimination is bad, but telling people to "fuck themselves" because you disagree with their viewpoint is OK?
How about a manager telling that to a female employee he disagrees with?
Or do you have double standards for the workplace compared to online discussion? Would swearing/harassing at women/gays/etc online be OK to you then?
When you're in a situation like that your world divides into a) people who really treat you just like anyone else, b) people for whom what you are is a positive/item of interest, c) people who have some aversion for you but would like not to and d) people who just displaying like what you are.
The easiest way to recognize type c) is actually that the first thing they say when you say you're gay is something like "I'm totally OK with gay people. My friend/brother/xxx is gay."
I don't dislike these people at all; they're usually sweet and I can tell they're working on their issues which I respect very much.
From what I had read so far Paul was a type c) when it came to sexism, so when this issue surfaced I really hoped his essay would convince me that he was a type b) or maybe even an a) but, given all the experience I've had paying detailed attention to dynamics like these because they have such a disproportionate influence on my life, I came away fairly confident that Paul is still firmly a c) with one foot cautiously on type b)
That's why given that this is the topic of this discussion I don't think I'd be doing anyone a favor of I pretended I felt Paul came off scot-free in all of this.
So yes; that makes me one of those "sexism accusers" you just called finger-pointing, ideologically blinded, upper middle class, oh so sensitive, fair trade coffee sipping, feel good armchair activists.
In that case I do the same as when a male colleague makes a smart-ass joke to a female colleague about making them go get them a coffee, which is calling them an asshole for what they just did.
(And no, you're not getting a pass by saying you were only talking about the real armchair activist any more than saying you only hate the real faggots would.)
That's where you are wrong.
Paul might be the worst sexist pig for all I know -- but nothing of what he (actually) said in the interview, his response post, and his general conduct with YC and women founders, has given any reason at all for him to NOT get scot-free for "all of this".
It's inventing reasons to accuse PG in "all of this", when none exists, that makes you a finger-pointer.
And by how fast you turned from champion of tolerance to your "go fuck yourself" to someone in conversation, you only cemented this.
The founder of an accelerator which has a reputation (earned or not) for being fratty and exclusionary and who runs a forum that's widely criticised for quickly silencing discussions on gender issues and being a bit of a hotbed for sexism spends several weeks coming up with an essay.
The end result of all that hard work is something that's decidedly defensive, demonstrates that neither he, nor anyone in his inner circle, has taken the trouble of properly reading up on the literature surrounding gender issues, doesn't go much beyond the "it's good for business angle" and replies to comments  in a way that demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of internalized oppression, one of the most basic concepts when it comes to discussing systemic discrimination.
So because given all that I don't agree that PG now comes out looking like a saint I deserve to be described in the most derogatory terms you could think of; but me using a swear word invalidates my argument?
You know what, that's a classic 'tone argument'  from derailment bingo . I doubt you've ever heard of it and judging from what I've read so far PG probably hasn't either, which is sort of my point.
And to reiterate once again; I very much appreciate what PG is doing and that he's taking positive steps in the right direction. That doesn't mean that I can't simultaneously believe that he has a long road ahead of him still.
 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7039270  http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Tone_argument  http://mlkshk.com/p/9FOI
The quality of the idea, execution, and team is what should matter. Not the color of skin, not gender, sexual orientation, accents, or anything else. But here we are...
We can't pretend that SWM are the only ones who can create a good product, and if our tech heroes happen to fuck up or say something that isn't right, I don't think it helps to ignore it.
I find that most good intentioned movements have more than their fair-share of the equivalent of fair weather fans. They don't understand the core of what the movement is about, they don't take the time to understand the best way to accomplish positive outcomes, and they use an as-seen-on-tv / mimicry approach in their activism without the fundamentals to support it. It's like putting up a simple search engine page layout, copying Google, without the engine behind the scenes to power it.
The critics I've read aren't saying pg has a hateful nature. They're saying that he hasn't fully accounted for his unconscious biases.
Given that everyone's friends have actual shortcomings, it doesn't seem a stretch to say that people are friends with people they imagine to have shortcomings because of an unconscious bias.
I've seen a lot of Twitter rage that is rather like this one: https://twitter.com/monteiro/status/416728196503973888
I'm not saying Graham should drop everything until every last bias is gone. I'm saying he shouldn't act as though sexism is a solved problem at YCombinator just because the percentage of female founders is up and it has women as partners.
I believe the standard request is:
> "If there was just the pro-activity line of attack, if it was like, "OK, yes, women aren't set up to be startup founders at the level we want." What would be lost if Y Combinator was more proactive about it? About lowering standards or something like that? Or recruiting women or something, like any of those options?"
Edit: He is willing to do more about the problem generally, and I give him credit for that.
Edit: @antics, I just reread the stream of angry @paulg tweets from Dec. 28th and have no idea what you're talking about. Maybe I missed tptacek's tweet both times. Please don't attack me over it.
Insinuating yourself into a discussion you have not been following carefully to accuse another party of hubris is pretty much the apex of bad discussion behavior. It is not in good faith, please don't do it.
Jacob is doing a fantastic job at making people of all types feel welcome, which I believe is more likely to make the Django developer community thrive (as it already is).
Also, the footnote mentioned where pg writes that he enjoys that startups can freely discriminate is worrying. It does not mean that pg is a sexist, but he is a role model and we would expect him to be more sensitive.
I don't know anything about this Django contributor aside from the tweets I've just read, but the phrasing and verbiage are very similar to the sjws I've had experiences with similar to what I wrote above. It makes me wary. SJWs do not have my best interests in mind--99% of it's a show to demonstrate how pious and dedicated they are to being a morally superior person, and it seems that a lot of times that demands you ignore and steamroll over the very disadvantaged people you somehow have self-appointed yourself the designated speaker for. SJWs complain about marginalizing, othering, and silencing voices of minorities, but they're quickly becoming some of the biggest offenders.
and thinking that the second one (in response to some people telling him he was factually wrong about pg, and should maybe cool down) in particular marks him as a toxic passive-aggressive douchebag. Do you think these are fine, too?
I didn't know he was head of Django, which I don't use, but wouldn't go as far as assuming his personality leaks out to the project. It may well be that he's doing great things in Django, people often compartmentalize.
Seems a lot better than your own name calling.
except for (preferably white) men, apparently: "ah right, yes, I forgot about the poor oppressed men. I keep doing that, why can’t I ever remember?"
Death threats from random anonymous people on the internet don't mean much more than that you have really pissed someone off. They're not to be taken literally.
Re pg's footnote: The discrimination example he brings up is based on real-world constraints, not some arbitrary prejudice. There is a place for enforced equality quotas, no child/woman/minority left behind and other social safety nets. Startups is not such a place.
(context at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6825924)
UPDATE: Read up on the thread. Very sad to see how people, and Joyent in particular, came down on Ben. WTF. For what it's worth, here's Ben's response. Reading that, it's pretty obvious he's the only adult involved in that whole fiasco. Seriously, W.T.F.
In fact I recommend IT jobs to everyone. The social inabilities that goes with programming is a repellent for everyone, but c'mon, we get to travel everywhere in the world, sit all day and watch gmail all the time. There couldn't be a more luxury job.
So a problem is, articles about sexism don't match the observations I've made on the field.
Edit: Added the last sentence and figures about my experience.
I wouldn't, at least not compared to many other high ranking fields where women are respected to a larger extent. I would even say that if you, as a women, want a career in technology you have a better chance with a degree and experience in another field.
We all make mistakes, sadly though the mistake is often badly phrasing or being snap-shot sampled in a way that allows a different, wrong perspective upon what was said and intended. It is a form of PC over compensation which you get and had/have with the race card. Heck even talking about such subjects without being 100% behind the offended party can be deemed by some mindsets as being as guilty as the deemed offender and easily mis-labeled.
Another way to view this and see how it happens is take TSA for example or traffic wardens. The mindset people have is that from a efw bad examples all TSA and traffic wardens (meter maids they are called in some parts - lets say meter people now or as I prefer traffic wardens and avoid misconception of sexual biased even if not intended and I'm typing this extra overhead just to avoid a non intended issue right there :|). So TSA and traffic wardens, they are often looked down upon and pre-judged or any action deemed persecution, even when they are just doing there job and are not like the few examples that get passed on. You can get equaly good and bad news about say a traffic warden and people will remember the bad and apply that to all people with that job title after reading a few examples. It is how news works sadly and the mindset of the populus that take this news in, biasing the bad against all and the good only to a individual. I won't even try to understand that but that is how it is for most people. People sadly just love to label and bias bad news - heck even saying that is a bias/labeling mindset train of thought and is that wrong or am I just being honest about I see many situations happen which need not of happen.
That all said whilst it is good that the bias some people have towards women is being tackled, I do worry as somebody who treats people as people that a unfairness is arrising for women with regards to IT at the stage that a bias in favour of women arises in many areas now from training access, special progroms only available to women with no man equivelant and the like. These are to compensate the deemedbias in the past. But to new people into this World growing up in such situations who are unaware of a bias being needed, will grow up seeing a bias against them if they are male and with that create the bias all a new for a whole new generation and all due to them being descriminated against due to them not being a women.
DISCLAIMER: Just so we are clear I'm being totaly pragmatic and honest and and bias against or for any gender is not my intention nor will it ever be so if you read into it otherwise then it is your unopen closed mindset that is reading words in a different voice than intended. Though please do point them out if grammer or badly worded, though not intended I'd like to learn how to avoid the whole issue so replies like that greatly welcome and apprecieated.
It is not all bad. One of the classic phenomena of witch hunts is when the hunt comes back to bag an original instigator. This is rich in irony and entertainment value.
To hopefully steer this in another direction, and because I have a little girl, what are some resources you all have seen that can help girls become interested and go into technical disciplines?
Here are a few of which I am aware. I highlight some companies started by women because they both teach technical skills and can serve as role models.
http://www.goldieblox.com/ - Construction toy sets aimed at girls.
http://www.roominatetoy.com/ - Electronic DIY kit aimed at girls.
http://littlebits.cc/ - Electronic DIY kit started by a female entrepreneur.
https://www.gethopscotch.com/ - An iPad app to teach kids how to program, started by female entrepeneurs
http://pbskids.org/scigirls/ - Various activities and videos to teach grade school girls about technology and science.
http://www.girlswhocode.com/ - Summer school to teach high school girls how to program.
http://www.tech-girls.org/ - Workshops to teach high school girls how to program.
http://www.blackgirlscode.com/ - Workshops to teach black grade school to high school girls how to program.
http://www.hackbrightacademy.com/ - Workshops to teach adult women how to program.
http://www.girldevelopit.com/ - Workshops to teach adult women how to program.
There are a few others that I'll add later. Do you know of more too?
Do people really think you get rid of negative discrimination by doing more of it; how can such racism be positive?
From their website:
"*Sadly, San Francisco’s digital divide falls along the same racial and social fault lines that characterize so many of society’s issues. White households are twice as likely to have home Internet access as African American houses. Bayview Hunters Point, Crocker Amazon, Chinatown, Visitacion Valley, and the Tenderloin have significantly lower rates of home technology use than the rest of the city. Sixty-six percent of Latinos report having a home computer, as opposed to 88 percent of Caucasians.*
*Through community outreach programs such as workshops and after school programs, we introduce underprivileged girls to basic programming skills in languages like Scratch and Ruby on Rails.*"
Edit: I've redacted my over-flamy end comment.
I'd say from the outside looking in it is a thorny subject, but in my observance BGC are good people who care about their community and are giving back to it through the knowledge and resources they've accrued.
>my observance BGC are good people who care about their community
It's such a shame then that they promote themselves as only caring for the part of their community that has a particular colour of skin.
¹ - http://betathegame.com/
I honestly can't tell if you're trolling here.
In case you aren't: that is not what they are doing, and it also isn't a shame. Helping out people who are historically disadvantaged and face current discrimination is nothing to be ashamed about. The goal is to level the playing field.
As a white guy, I got plenty of people helping me out for no good reason: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-th...
And I am not the only one who has noticed this. E.g.: http://pgbovine.net/tech-privilege.htm
As somebody who financially supports BGC and aims to mentor at some of their workshops, I think they're doing great stuff.
All the white guys that grew up in the poor rural South and fought to learn about tech read that and say "fuck off, Scalzi". And then they spend the rest of their lives hearing from the other white guys about how their accomplishments are hollow for the rest of their lives.
Asians sit on the sidelines, largely ignored, quietly falsifying the "oppressor/oppressed" narrative and driving social justice warriors crazy.
White privilege by the way, isn't a theory. It's a fact. E.g.: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9873
Or, more entertainingly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG4f9zR5yzY
Have you ever considered the possibility that people can judge other people based on their individual merits, not by the actions/inactions of people with the same colour of their skin or gender?
Furthermore, you quote one white paper to prove that white privilege is fact - how does that paper prove anything is factual?
Actually, there's a lot of research that shows that the default condition of humankind is not to judge other people based on their individual merits. And that probably includes you. Try some of these on for size: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
That paper proves that just having a name that people perceive as white gives you a substantial advantage in job searches. That is one small aspect of white privilege. There are a raft of studies like this. That's just one that stuck in my head.
Certainly, that paper provides evidence that those with African American sounding names are at a disadvantage to people with white sounding names when applying for jobs.
Calling this disparity a 'privilege' and not a 'disadvantage' that needs to be corrected only stands as a reason to vilify one group, rather than lift the other, disadvantaged group up.
It's practically become a social faux pas to comment on anything in regards to social equity if you're a 'cigender white male' because of all the 'privilege' that group of people have. Case in point, this entire controversy with PG.
The word privilege has become so loaded that it's almost a catch all to dismiss or denigrate people's character irregardless of the quality of the content.
It's not that I think anyone is deluded, or blind. The language used has just become so muddled as to be almost worthless.
I don't think that's what's going on at all. Privilege checklists, for example, are written by and for privileged people: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Privilege_checklist
Maybe the term is muddled for you, but for me it's a pretty specific technical term, and most usages of it I see are pretty accurate.
I think the "disadvantage" term can have some utility, but for me it misses important nuances. One is that disadvantage sounds pretty abstract, pretty diffuse. E.g., disadvantaged youth are ones that happen to be born into poverty. But differential hiring based on names is active and specific.
Another is that thing many of the actions that make up privilege are positive ones. People helped me out in ways that other people just weren't helped. For example, when you look at the makeup of company boards or executive rosters, it's not like anybody said, "Hey, let's keep the women out." It's just that they happened to promote a lot more guys.
But the biggest thing for me is it puts the focus for action in the right place: on the people who are privileged. With power comes responsibility. White privilege is mainly white people helping other white people. That will only change if enough individual white people notice their privilege and act.
The focus of anyone interested in social equality should be to raise those with disadvantages up, not to impart a sense of blame and responsibility on those who fall into Peggy McIntosh's definition of privileged.
Recognising and providing support for those who are disadvantaged achieves that. Blaming those who do not have these disadvantages as if there's a concerted effort to screw the disadvantaged is great if you want to encourage victimhood and a lack of self determination for those you're attempting to help.
Having talked with a lot of people you consider "disadvantaged" about this, they mostly disagree with you. As do plenty of other people.
I personally find the framing of privilege useful in evaluating and improving my own actions, as well as evaluating the actions of others. Having never heard of Peggy McIntosh before this moment, I can confidently say that I'm not really interested in her definitions of who's privileged and who's not.
Having been born white, I do of course recognize that I didn't pick that. I don't think people are responsible for things they have zero control over. But when those things give them power, I do think they are responsible for how they use it.
I've expressed one opinion on 'the right way to do this'. Help the disadvantaged - and don't vilify those with perceived advantages that they have no control over.
I could ask the exact same thing of your background and why you feel that your opinion is more valid than mine, but instead I'd prefer to address the content of what you're saying, rather than what your background is.
I have also talked with a lot of people that I consider "disadvantaged", and they do agree with me. As do plenty of other people.
The Geekfeminism wiki page that you linked lists Peggy McIntosh's article "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack", which was the first 'Privilege checklist'.
I'm surprised you haven't even bothered to read the original writing that frames the world view you've accepted as fact.
When you make statements about how other people should act in a certain situation, it is useful to consider your cultural biases. This is what privilege checklists are useful for.
If you receive a strong 'check your privilege!' response to something you say, it just means that what you are saying doesn't seem to take into consideration what it is like to be the other person.
If you feel that you have taken this into consideration, then you can say so! Or you can ask for help in unfolding your biases. Just be aware that there might be a conversation going on that you are interrupting and that those involved might not have time to help you.
Privilege isn't about vilification, it is about trying to understand the experiences of other people.
One of the useful analogies for me has been Acquired Situational Narcissism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism_%28psychology%29#Acq...
It's a diagnosable variant of narcissism in which a person, like a young celebrity, becomes convinced that it's all about them because they spend long enough in a context where everybody acts like it's all about them.
I had known about ASN for a few years when I ran across the concept of privilege. Then I took some of the Implicit Association Tests, which made it clear to me that I was, like the rest of humanity, not the perfectly balanced intellect I wanted to think of myself as.
I basically had to admit that I'd spent decades fooling myself. It wasn't, as I thought, that I, e.g., "didn't see color". Instead, it was that I didn't see my seeing of color. What else about my mind and my social interactions did I not see?
Those dominoes are still falling.
I don't think my opinion is more valuable than yours. I do think that the opinions of a non-disadvantaged person (which I'm just going to call advantaged, because that's less clumsy) on how to achieve social justice aren't very persuasive to me unless they've actually tried those opinions out in the field and had some success with them. Similarly, the views of managers on how to code are unpersuasive to me unless they have spent a lot of time coding. Experience matters.
Now that you mention it, I did read "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" years ago. But I'm uninterested in the academic side of this except so far as it has practical utility to me. I use the framework of privilege because it has been very useful to me both in sorting out my own bullshit and in working on these issues. Note that I don't accept the frame as fact; frames can't be factual. What I'm asserting is factual is the substantial advantages that particular groups have, the data of which you apparently don't dispute.
So I think where we've gotten to is that you, a white guy with no apparent experience of either experiencing or fighting disadvantage, has some strong opinions on how social justice should happen. And I say: that's great. Go do that and let me know how that works. But having once held your view and moved on to a different one after years of thought and experience, I'm going to stick with mine for now.
My opinions are tantamount to a manager saying 'You want to learn to code? I may not know how to code, but I will provide you a helping hand and resources to help you learn.' I see nothing even remotely contentious about this.
You claim that you are uninterested in the academic side of this topic and yet you debate a random person on the semantics of a word on HN and post links to academic research on the topic. Could you be any more disingenuous?
Speaking of being disingenuous, you completely misconstrued what I said in regards to your world view - here's exactly what I wrote:
"I'm surprised you haven't even bothered to read the original writing that frames the world view you've accepted as fact."
I never made a claim that 'frames can be factual', or anything of the sort. A few comments ago you made the assertion that:
"White privilege by the way, isn't a theory. It's a fact."
I think where we've gotten to is actually you, a white guy with no apparent intelligence have nothing better to do with your life than try (and fail, miserably) at imparting your world view on someone. Congratulations, keep at that.
I guess we disagree on how I should take your opinions, but that is not a surprise.
You did claim that I had accepted a "world view" as fact. I consider a frame and a world view effectively the same, so that's what I meant. You should also decide whether you think I misconstrued what you said, or whether I'm being disingenuous. Accusing me of both at once isn't really coherent.
I'm sure that last paragraph is meant to be devastating, but you're going to have to try harder than that. Like Scalzi, my opinion is that a lot of young white males are going to have little tantrums when I talk about privilege, because that's easier for them than the discomfort of actually accepting their unearned advantages. That's fine. Eventually you'll get over it. Or you'll grow up into a bitter old white male, increasingly resentful about your diminishing privilege. I'd rather it were the former, but it's up to you.
I still don't buy the whole white privilege concept as something distinct from being a simple numerical majority. One paper on some exaggerated African sounding names compared to some typical English names does not prove a whole lot. Among other things, There would need to be a control group with some names that sound both (1) white and (2) strange to English speaking ears.
Obviously, there are advantages to being white in this society as Louis CK points out, just as there are advantages to being black, and advantages to being Asian. Yet almost no one talks about black privilege, or Asian privilege. Except possibly Gavin McInnes, and then only ironically, as a comment on white privilege: http://takimag.com/article/tackling_asian_privilege_gavin_mc...
There are advantages to being members of all sorts of groups, but the advantage of being a member of SWM is particularly strong and has been quantified widely .
edit: Perhaps you were limiting your first statement to within particular groups, e.g. tech, where there is a majority of SWM. The thing is, a majority of the privileged group is what you'd expect, right?
What those names actually sound to target audience is white and black. If you read the section on how they picked the names, those were the most obviously white and black names they could come up with, using both census data and actual reactions to resumes.
That a typical black name sounds exaggerated and African to you is a pretty good sign you aren't black. Jamal, for example, is an Arabic name. If you look at name frequencies from 1979, some names of equivalent frequency to Lakisha are Janice, Christa, Gloria, Lynn, Shelley, and Alexis. For Jamal, names of similar frequency are Rudy, Josh, Allan, and Gordon. (Source: US Social Security department.) If you think this study would be materially different with Janice and Gordon than Emily and Greg, you're welcome to run it. But I think you'd be wasting your time.
I used to live in Chicago, where they did this study, and definitely knew both of those names, so they didn't sound "strange" to me, not in the sense of "I've never heard of this name," anyhow. They did sound strange in the sense of, "not part of my tribe," though. As a white guy who grew up in a white area of a neighboring state, I didn't personally know anybody with those names until later in life. But I knew they were black names.
And that's the kind of "sounds strange" that can influence hiring decisions. Not one person need say, "I hate black people, so I'm throwing this resume out." All they have to do is start callbacks with the one that "looks best" to them, one they have a good feeling about. One that seems the least strange.
The reason that the people who talk about privilege don't talk much about black privilege or female privilege is that they are pursuing social justice. Their effort is part of a long historical arc going back to when black people were property and women might as well have been. Once we've finished tiding that mess up, I imagine the conversation will shift quite a bit.
What I had in mind was that for a white English speaker, the 'black' names would probably sound foreign and unfamiliar, but non-English names from white countries (e.g. Norway, Iceland, Sweden) would also sound foreign and unfamiliar.
The question I was curious to answer was, are the people who are assessing resumes responding to an impulse (conscious or unconscious) of:
- "hmm, that name sounds black" or
- "hmm, that name sounds unfamiliar and foreign"?
With the former, it sounds like racism, with the latter, it sounds like generic suspicion of foreigners, concern about English communication ability, etc.
Maybe it's an academic point because in a US context, there are probably more people with "American Black" names that sound unfamiliar to white, English-speaking Americans, than there are Norwegians or Icelanders with similarly unfamiliar names.
In some sense, I suspect the two aren't totally distinguishable, because I expect the underlying mechanism is at least partly an in-group vs out-group mechanism. Indeed, the social justice technical term "othering" is about how people take actual present people and dehumanize them by activating negative intergroup biases.
In this case, the researchers used in-person surveys to judge that the names specifically were perceived as black, rather than merely unknown.
4.I’m a straight white male and my life isn’t easy! My life sucks! Your “lowest difficulty setting” doesn’t account for that!
That’s actually fully accounted for in the entry. Go back and read it again.
This one’s a stand-in for all the complaints about the entry that come primarily either from not reading the entry, or not reading what was actually written in the entry in preference to a version of the entry that exists solely in that one person’s head, and which is not the entry I wrote. Please, gentlemen, read what is there, not what you think is there, or what you believe must be there because you know you already disagree with what I have to say, no matter what it is I am saying.
But as long as we're talking about it, you might benefit by reading his FAQ in response to the post: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/17/lowest-difficulty-sett...
He's mainly addressing the straight white males of the Internet who thought the piece was crap, so it's basically for you.
You are correct that Beta is a tool being used at BGC, and we collaborate with other organizations listed by mikeleeorg.
I understand what you are saying however it's my opinion that any community (racial, ethnic, religious etc) that is attempting to impart knowledge is doing a good thing. Particularly when that knowledge is important and beneficial to the future, as I believe programming is.
1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6885123 - Homeless coder starts app
2. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6365495 - Africans genetically more corrupt?
3. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6448409 - Rick Ross's history
4. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6857739 - Nelson Mandela dies
5. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6035263 - (Most obvious)Resume with black vs white name
6. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6902563 - Cover up of racist+sexist mindset in Harvard
7. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6907915 - Homeless coder finishes app
8. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6975732 - BlackGirlsCode event
Edit: I think you edit-bombed me? The person running blackgirlscode and the other volunteers seem to be doing a fantastic job. The girls attending seem to be enjoying, getting encourage, learning. I don't know the community it's based in. Racial segregation is not the way.
That is all.
The comment isn't stupid: such gender/race discrimination _may_ backfire(for example, if your message is read not as "black girls have the same abilities but may need extra help" but as "black girls need extra help because they are black & girls -- inherently less smart and talented". Now, I'm not saying that it _will_ backfire(I guess it probably won't) but it _may_.
Also, the author makes a really good point that you probably want to help all disadvantaged(unless you're racist/sexist for some reason): why exclude asian girls if they get less help?
I get that, in fact, race/gender discrimination may be the best way to fight race/gender discrimination of the past, but this point of view requires much more explanation than simply hitting downvote button.
That one group is focussed on dealing with the problems experienced by one disadvantaged group does not imply intent to exclude others, it can just mean that they feel that the particular reason that one group is underrepresented are specific and that that is what they are focussed on addressing.
Particularly if the problem they are addressing isn't outright racism/sexism, but disadvantage due to mainstream educational systems being culturally maladapted to the target group, other groups -- even if similarly disadvantaged by the mainstream system -- may naturally not be well served by their particular programs either, and making clear where the focus is helps people to find the right fit for their needs.
Obviously, the ideal state would be to not need such targetted groups, but the existence of disadvantage doesn't mean that there is a good short-term one-size fits all solution.
My point is that if you believe in equal abilities regardless of race/gender then you probably want to completely get rid of race and gender fields in your application form. And if you actually support discriminating against these fields, then you have to explain your decision rather than simply hit downvote button.
I can see how BlackGirlsCode may help people, but I also can see how it may harm. My guess: it probably helps(although I'm not an american). Downvote irrelevant comments not comments you disagree with.
You probably want to avoid them being used in selection decisions, but you may -- particularly if you are a group whose mission is dealing with the specific barriers to a specific disadvantaged race/sex subgroup -- want to have them on your admission form so that you can assess (a) whether you are effectively serving your mission, and (b) whether your program has broader utility than you expected and perhaps should be described differently.
Doing it a-priori is not needed and has serious implications.
For example, if BlackGirlsCode produces a generation of black women who are perfectly capable programmers but believe that they're only capable "for black girls" and not by the tougher standards of asian men, that's backfiring. Such graduates will not go on to found startups or even apply for jobs at the best companies. They will probably have less overall life success than if they hadn't entered the program.
Or if the graduates are fine, but it's a resume stain, because everyone who hears about it thinks "These are people who need special help. I don't want to work with people like that. I want to work with self-sufficient people." So the graduates can't find jobs or investors. That's a backfire.
Or if it works well for the small number of people directly touched, but the much larger number of people peripherally touched become more likely to think that programmers are divided into "black" and "nonblack" and subconsciously act on that. It's a smaller effect, but a larger group of people and could easily be a net loss. That's a backfire too.
Funny, fraternity/sorority membership is not interpreted so negatively as to mean the person needs special help acquiring social connections.
It's provocative, distracting and subverting - Introducing a politically sensitive, racially charged, artificial problem.
This will incite anger through political correctness. The cause is bogus.
Snubbing it is politically incorrect to criticize women and ethnic minorities in the west.
Non sequitur, PC trolls like this can do as much distracting as they please.
Why not bring up english? There are many people who are engineers who would benefit from localized API and developer documentation and understanding english better.
If you want discrimination in engineering - I'm surprised no one brings up english.
Edit to below: Sorry for editing this after your reply. I didn't notice.
See how I didn't mention race or sex or sexuality? That's because you don't need to mention that other stuff when you have a tight focus.
"Help girls code" does not mean "stop translating documentation to Portuguese".
"Help translate all these documentations and apis to many languages" doesn't mean "don't bother spending time teaching girls to code".
English is the more topic subject dividing engineers and programmer's from reaching their potential. These are people who are already on their path and passionate about growing themselves into programmers.
Can you imagine how we can help them? Their potential if they have localized documentation?
A story of disadvantage - imagine having an issue and being powerless to articulate yourself to a predominately english-speaking world of engineers. What about their hearts, their passions?
And this is effective, safe. Helps people. Constructive. This is great news man.
Now you see where I'm going?
2. The PC troll issue
I feel tempted to blurt out every emotion. But when a particular group is mentioned - we have to make everyone happy? Why is pycon code of conduct pulled off geekfeminism.org (http://jessenoller.com/blog/2012/12/7/the-code-of-conduct). This is sensitivity not to woman, but I feel it's creating a culture of hysteria.
Truly, I do not believe woman in the first world (I'm sorry if this offends people) are at risk of rape or sexual harassment at conferences. Most conferences do not have codes of conduct that state this because it makes you ask, "Why?". Do these people ever go outside, to starbucks, etc? Do they live in a Chapel away from vulgar language and stringent political correctness? I'm deeply sorry to offend anyone here.
But how do you even get to Pycon if you're in this feminist Cabal? Do you go around in a bubble when you're outside? Especially in SF where radical free expression is so prevalent, it's amazing how the when it gets to the workplace and conferences, women (a select few), pull what we may see as a 180. Now they're ultra-chaste, "triggered"* by humor they probably laughed out at dinners before, especially in front of more confident and boastful company.
I feel I can't talk about anything. I feel it's a sand pit meant to distract and divide. I feel like I can't express myself in the most basic ways.
* Triggered means PTSD for traumatic events in their past. So now it's not a matter of political niche. Ever study cognitive-behavioral psychology? People can link a bad memory to anything!
For example, just because a college has different standards of admission for different races to promote diversity is not racism but to give preferential treatment to the group of people who have more social and economic power. That's racism.
BlackGirlsCode is not a racist organization. Actually to the contrary, its trying to improve the opportunities to the most under-represented group of people in tech industry. This is a good thing for the tech sector. To focus on blank girls, this organization can be much more effective in its goal (to make tech sector more inclusive) than if it was a "PeopleCode" or even a "GirlsCode" group.
If every white person thinks the N-word when he sees a black person, that fact creates an inescapable environment of hostility where anyone would feel completely helpless to create any sort of positive future for themselves. Of course we don't live in a world where everyone is this blatantly racist. The point of this is to explain to you in a different way why racism is more powerful than just "you exclude people based on race." Some people need environments where they can feel comfortable learning, before they can get up to speed and have the confidence to defend themselves against criticism and hostility.
...you should really take a look at the more common definitions of racism to understand why this point of view you have in one held by a minority of people.
Right. Because letting the majority population define which terms an aggrieved minority can use to describe its own situation is completely sensible. What a surprise, the discriminated minority has a different view of the majority's behaviors than do those in the majority!
Perfectly stated. Seems like the people at BCG are trying to help girls learn to code, with an emphasis on those who are black--because of a range of obstacles that might otherwise prevent these girls from learning.
And let's be honest here: if BCG didn't do this work to encourage black women and girls to code, who would? I see nothing wrong with their desire to encourage black girls to learn more about coding.
Ha! I've had to respond to this "point" more times than I can count and I really like how you put this. I think I'm going to steal this for next time :)
> Not that it changes your overall point, but note that California no longer has a majority population along racial lines.
California still has a very substantial White racial majority (74.0% as of the 2010 census), it just doesn't appear to when people of Hispanic ethnicity are counted as a separate group from their race (non-Hispanic Whites were only 39.7% in the same census), as is frequently done in the US.
Or to put it simply: Does a Hispanic in California currently experience White privilege? If no, then they should be counted separately.
An opportunity only offered to one person out of a group who would similarly benefit from that opportunity simply based on their racial heritage is racism. Yes. It's entirely unnecessary discrimination.
"All the blue-eyed children may leave early for recess." [not a direct quote AFAIK] - the brown/green/whatever eyed children would equally benefit from early recess.
People learning English might be interested in my English Stack Exchange question: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/142750/why-is-fem...
Some smart people cleared this up for me: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskSocialScience/comments/1rwvc3/why...
To answer "is this racism?", you have to ask "which racism?"
black vs white (dominant paradigm in US)
female vs male
young vs old
It's attempting to do successful intervention & marketing, essentially, by focusing on a specific demographic. As we all should know, focusing on a specific demographic is a fine way to produce a product targeted to that demographic's needs. Young black women have different pain points in tech than Zuckalikes or male first-born children of Chinese immigrants. It is obvious that other organizations with mainly white or male constituents are not effectively serving the market and it's no surprise that something better for this target group has come along.
The rest of your comment is pure silliness. Every power that came into power, to repeat your phrasing, did so by claiming they were the best and then grabbing the money. When I see the black girls of code claiming they are racially and morally superior to everyone else, and making tons of cash, I'll consider believing you.
Yeah, targeting is one thing, exclusion is entirely another. If you're excluding other races from your product that's well...racist.
>The rest of your comment is pure silliness. Every power that came into power, to repeat your phrasing, did so by claiming they were the best and then grabbing the money. When I see the black girls of code claiming they are racially and morally superior to everyone else, and making tons of cash, I'll consider believing you.
Well, I said potentially and you said 'claiming' implying an active process of obtaining power. We are in agreement that black girls are not a powerful force in the development community, but neither were (pick small exclusionary group/minority that came to power). Rwanda anyone?
They aren't now, but could be, especially with the principles they are using that are in place.
So, I know something of the subject.
So I will reiterate, it is the principle of exclusion that puts it on the same spectrum. No they haven't and I will assume most likely will not cause a genocide. However, principle...matters. It is unwise to perpetuate the same beliefs and systems of an oppressor and expect a different outcome! 'Only certain people of a certain group because of race and gender can be here'.
Since you insinuated I could know nothing of the subject because of my background, and then upon revelation suggest I should know better because of it, I'd suggest to you that instead of making assumptions about me and my background what I should be like, and chaffing at the fact that I don't fit the mold of someone you'd expect with this background, maybe heed what I have to say as it is from a unique position that is not common.
As far as I can tell, your argument is,
1) BGC starts out by identifying a target population based on race.
2) All genocidal massacres have begun with this step.
3) Ergo, BGC may result in a genocidal massacre.
I'm pretty sure its not geared for that at all.
There is no reasonable sense in which it is accurate to say that Black Girls Code is geared for "black girls vs. white girls".
There might be some vague sense (though its still a very bad and misleading way of putting things by inventing a conflict which is not essential to the focus) to saying it is geared for black girls vs. white boys.
From everything I've seen about their actual policies, including in this thread, yes.
So, building women founders, is, as is building male founders, a way to create a few more people with "social and economic power" to rule over the rest of us.
I suspect you are fully aware of this anyway and are just disrailing the argument for fun.
Do you see how stupid you sound?
I mean, really.
People claiming outrage and shock at having just discovered the existence of affirmative action in a country that practiced aparthied in some parts within living memory are either outstandingly ignorant, stupid, or lying through their teeth.
I have just discovered the concept of widespread support for racial and sexual segregation in a tech education [charity?] group in the USA. I have just discovered that not only was this link mentioned in the highest voted comment on a HN thread but also my objection to such racism - passed off as you so nicely word it as "affirmative action" - was immediately downplayed.
I do find it a shame - have you seen what they're doing with this group. They're getting kids involved in programming in a way that's exciting to me - indeed one commenter mentioned they've worked with them and wrote (IIRC) betathegame which I'd just been looking at to use with my own kids. They're well resource and completely up-front about what they are "black girls code".
So you believe I'm outstandingly ignorant? About what? I was ignorant of creeping support in the tech community for racism, for segragation in learning, for exclusion based on skin colour.
Division by age; no problem with me. Division by sex; can be argued for (and BGC do). Division by skin colour, in learning to code, how is it in the least bit relevant.
I do sometimes proffer opinions that I do not hold in order to develop better understanding or to develop my rhetoric but this is by no means one of those times.
Rather than questioning my sincerity perhaps you can convince me that skin colour is pertinent when offering access to education in computing? If you don't want to do that then perhaps you can say hat it is that's convinced you that it is acceptable?
Now as to why I think that this club is ok, is not because I think that skin colour has any relevance in learning to code. Also, if I thought they were being exclusively for black girls, rather than just targetting them, then I would not give this any time, but that seems to be evidently not the case.
The sad fact is that skin colour has deep relevance in the US because it is still such a deeply divided and institutionally racist country in many ways, especially if you do not have enough money to sugar the pill.
If you are a teenage black girl in poverty in the US you are bombarded with media telling you what defines a teenage black girl in poverty in the US. You are marketed to as a teenage black girl in poverty, you are educated as a teenage black girl in poverty.
And unless you are unusually idiosyncratic, you will already have bought the story you are being sold by the time you are a teenager.
Most people buy the story they are sold by the society around them.
As far as I am concerned, given the society and history of the US, the club BlackGirlsCode is not spreading the message, "coding is a black thing", it is spreading the message "black girls are able and allowed to code", which is a positive thing. It isn't forcing people to think of themselves in a certain way, it is trying to start with how the people they are trying to help are already viewing themselves, it is accepting that the society is really screwed right now and so sod trying to destroy tribalism in one fell swoop, as that is a big job and may take a few more generations, lets try and get people to widen their horizons and do something about the massive technological literacy gap. Clubs called BlackGirlsCode in the US are needed for exactly the same reason that organisations dedicated to literacy for Dalit women in India are neccessary.
Personally I would rather that society drop the whole black/white thing altogether as a description of skin colour, as not only is the binary designation one of the most heinous divide and conquer traps that is going, but I think that the terms are also woefully inaccurate and unfit for purpose as descriptive adjectives. However I rarely get a good response to that, so convincing society in general of that one is really more of a long game.
I'm sure if you had anything of value to say you'd have said it by now, so I'm just gonna let this one go.
Reflecting on my thought processes at that age, I remember it being entirely about 2 things:
1. Expression. Nothing could have sounded more dull than building aimlessly-- I wanted to DESIGN. (My definition of this being "carrying out a specific communicative purpose through look and function.") I wanted to make a website that demonstrated my tastes and values to my friends. (Which is likely why I went straight to websites and not desktop software.)
2. Social dynamics. Similar but different to the aforementioned point, I wanted to actually affect other people with what I was making. As a young girl, that typically meant impressing potential friends and boyfriends. I had a poetry site at one point. I made sites for a fake band my girl friends and I talked about forming. I had tons of blogs. I really should have segued into games at that time, as that would have fallen in the same category, but sadly I did not.
While I know every human being is different, I was what you'd consider a "girly girl." So I believe the difference between myself and a young boy was quite pronounced in a stereotypically feminine direction-- which is where one should be investigating a subject like this, in my opinion.
Though a different topic altogether, in case anyone's interested in how this all played out in my adult life, I wrote an article called "That Time I Declared Programming ‘Not My Thing’ and How to Turn Fear Into Action" which can be found here: http://www.fairgroundmedia.com/turn-fear-into-action.
No need to declare that you're a blogger. It's obvious.
More here: http://highlowtech.org
And I'm sure there are lots of great entrepreneurial minds here who are building similar solutions too.
RailsBridge (http://www.railsbridge.org) is aimed at adult women beginners too.
Technovation Challenge (http://iridescentlearning.org/programs/technovation-challeng...) is a worldwide program for high school girls to develop engineering and entrepreneurship skills. I was a mentor for this locally and it was great fun. Super smart girls.
Little Miss Geek (http://littlemissgeek.org/) runs great workshops in London high schools. A 14 year old girl built an app thanks to inspiration at this workshop and now speaks out publicly about how fun it was. Fantastic role model. (http://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2013/oct/15/b...)
Edit: Also, if you're searching for this topic, "girls in STEM" (or SET, SETI, SEAT, etc) is another great source of resources aimed at encouraging girls in science.
I'm not a parent or teacher, so I'm not in touch with what high schoolers find interesting these days. But imagine if there were a program backed by top VCs getting startup engineers, especially ensuring visible minorities among the bunch, into high schools to break down how their popular apps or games du jour work. Rather than "I want to learn to program, ok, let's print out 'Hello World'", outline the systems thinking behind the apps and services that the audience uses every day. Maybe it could even be effective as an online video series. Maybe it already exists.
Still: There are things we all can do if we actually care about helping change mindsets early on. Even many smart teenage boys (so I am told, see disclaimer above) don't want to go into engineering because it's nerdy and unpopular. We need diversity on the inside, not just on the outside.
Super Scratch Programming Adventure!
It's cool to expose people to options though! I wish I had access to a male-friendly version of a program like one of these when I was growing up.
A true pro-female movement would first of all recognize the value of all the work of women over the millennia. And secondly, they would fight against discrimination. But the desire for equal representation in every field comes out perversely anti-female, since it values down everything females are doing and values up everything males are doing.
If I have a daughter, it will be okay to me if she wants to be a scientist or a stay-at-home mom. My mom played a big role in my life for which I am forever grateful. That too is valuable.
To think that pg actually believes that there are no female programmers was the least charitable possible interpretation, and the only reason to have picked that one in particular was to confirm your own bias.
Could it possibly be that men and women think differently, and those minor differences are reflected in their career preferences? Could it be that these preferences play a bigger role in gender imbalances in career fields than sexism in a modern society?
Nah. That's crazy talk.
Yes there is, and examples of programmes to get men into. Ursing or women into construction have been posted to HN before.
Someone always always makes the same point as you and for some reason it always manages to infuriate me. I've had to re-write this 4 times because it was so vicious at first. But it does feel tbat a person must be deliberately trollin when they trot out the same tired bullshit that other idiots spout, especially when that bullshit has been debunked on the same forum that they're posting to and when it is so easy to debunk with a simple websearch. It feels as if some people like living their lives with the blinkers on.
FWIW, I read HN pretty regularly and had never noticed any programs to get more women into construction. Not to say that they don't exist, but I'd agree with your interlocutor that the level of hand-wringing on that subject doesn't seem at all similar to the level seen in tech.
As for whether that sort of claim is "easy to debunk with a simple websearch", it's probably much easier for you. Keep in mind that google tailors its results to return the sort of sites you've looked for before, so what you see in response to a given search is different from what others would see. (Not to mention that not knowing that something exists makes it hard to know what phrase one might google to find it.) So instead of saying "it's easy to debunk this with a web search", it's far more productive if you do that search yourself and provide an actual link to the references that YOU think debunk it.
Here there actually is a government program to get women into trades, simply because there's a shortage of skilled tradespeople in general, and nearly every other demographic is 'tapped out' if you will.
Construction, while it can be lucrative, is simply not 'aspirational', so anyone looking to improve their social status steers clear of the profession.
Well then, since I'm spouting "bullshit" (your words):
Educate me. Let me play the "Citation Needed" card.
Your inability, or unwillingness, to perform a simple websearch even when given suitable search terms tells me all I need to know about your desire to find facts and make corrections to your weong statements.
And your hair-trigger temper and vitriol tell me all I need to know about you.
It has been so thoroughly brought up and smacked down that at this point, I'm going to be charitable (?) and assume that this guy is just trolling and/or meta-trolling at this point. Take a deep breath and let it go.
1. It is possible that men and women do think differently and therefore have different career preferences, so the optimal gender ratio is not 1:1.
2. Just because the optimal gender ratio may not be 1:1 does not mean that the current expression is the optimal one.
I think we absolutely need to make this field more friendly to women. I don't think we'll ever see 50% participation, but I don't want to see any person (man, woman, or anyone identifying otherwise) turn away from this field because they found it hostile. I do believe that this happens, and that sucks.
And I completely agree. I guess my point is: how much of this outrage is manufactured? Is the gender imbalance truly a "crisis" or is it an artifact of something else entirely?
Messy. And no women are persuaded to learn programming, and no one wins but those websites making money on advertising. Everyone comes away angry.
Looking at the hard data from 2012-13, we have 10.7% international students. So of the US students, 7.4/.897 = 8.2% identified as African American.
It's true that this is under-represented compared to the 12.2% of the US population for that demographic cited at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_Stat... and in fact the ratio of the two percentages is about 0.67, so you could argue that about 33% of African American students who ought to be at Princeton if the student body were strictly proportional to population are missing.
If we look at the corresponding numbers of non-Hispanic whites, we see 72.4% of the population, and 56.7% (100 - 10.7 - 38.4)/.897 of Princeton's student body. The ratio is .78, which is definitely higher than 0.67, but not nearly as much higher as I was expecting when I saw the Princeton numbers. For one thing, I recalled the US as being 15-16% African American, but it looks like in the last 20-some years the demographics have shifted markedly... The upshot is that you see fewer black people in Princeton than you might expect based on general population but way more than you used to even in the recent past.
It would be interesting to see what US demographics for college-age folks look like, though; they may be significantly different from overall demographics.
For comparison with the above numbers, American Indian students are underrepresented at Princeton by a factor of 4 or so, and Pacific Islanders by a factor of 1.8. Hispanics are presumably underrepresented by a factor of 2 or so, but it's hard to tell with the complexities of the classifications there. Asian Americans are overrepresented by a factor of 4.
I'm not actually sure I have a point here, other than attempting to quantify "few"...
There are also substantial differences between Ivy League schools: http://www.nationaljournal.com/thenextamerica/education/ivy-...
And yes, there are substantial differences between the Ivies, and between other "otherwise prominent" institutions. And even within a single school it can fluctuate widely, whether due to trends or chance. For example, http://web.mit.edu/ir/pop/students/diversity.html shows a pretty wide range in African American enrollment numbers at MIT over the last 4 years (ranging from 5.3% to 7.7%) and similar fluctuations for Latinos (but at a much higher base level).
Another confounding factor here is that even though the applicant pools and matriculating classes for these schools have gotten much more national than they used to be, the matriculation demographics still tend to skew somewhat local. MIT, for example, has a disproportionate number of undergrads from Massachusetts: according to http://web.mit.edu/registrar/stats/geo/ there are 340 of them out of 4080 US students total (8%) this year, while the population of MA, at 6.6 million, is only 2% of the US population. Similarly, http://www.princeton.edu/admission/applyingforadmission/admi... says Princeton has 204 students from NJ this year, but only 38 from MA, while the population of NJ is only 1.5 times that of MA at most.
Since different parts of the country have different racial breakdowns (MA is 7% African American, not 12%, for example) this complicates any analysis of the goings-on at such schools. :(
But please tell me honestly how you feel about the fact that RIGHT NOW, anyone can look up "investment banking" in the library and start learning about it? They can open trading accounts and start doing it right away without permission from anyone. Would you disagree that the playing field is not level because of this?
I feel people who want to be coders should not wait to get acceptance from incumbent coders, but instead, go to the library and learn to code from books and websites.
Bosses want people with abilities, so if people get abilities, they'll be employable.
YC is probably a great way to start a company, but it is far from a requirement. If females want to found a company, why not start it right now, right away? Why waste time focusing on anything outside their goals?
Why fight to persuade someone that you can make customers happy and then give them back a portion of your work? Why not simply begin to make customers happy right now? This is the best time in the world for doing this, yet so many people are wasting it away by focusing on convincing other people that a minority of people are wrong.
Even if they get everyone to agree with them, they'll still need to do all kinds of hard work to learn to code/be a vet/dancer/founder, etc. So, why not start NOW to do that hard work for one's self?
- Most investment bankers aren't self-taught kids from impoverished neighborhoods who got where they are today through a combination of pluck and determination.
- Good libraries are in good neighborhoods. Poor neighborhoods often don't have a library at all.
- Bosses want people who have abilities, but depending on your circumstances at birth it may take a lot more effort to acquire those abilities.
Some people succeed even though the deck is completely stacked against them. This has always been the case. And yes, the individual should do what they can to make the best of an unfair situation. However, I'm arguing that the deck shouldn't be stacked against people based on gender and race in the first place. And before there can be meaningful change people have to acknowledge that this unfairness has to be addressed.
But the "no female programmers" thing is specific to western culture. There are plenty of female programmers in India, and in Russia. So this is likely something about western culture, that has caused this difference.
i'd be very curious to hear from a female programmer from Russia. I just find it hard to believe in overturning of the sexist culture there, and my impression that we have more females in hi-tech here in SV.
Programming (or anything with a keyboard) is not really seen a manly profession in developing countries. Or, to be frank, in the first world countries either.
The difference is that in the first world, the pay increase and quality of life is much greater between say carpenter or fireman vs computer programmer.
I've been in conversations in with high level execs where the disdain for the 'tappy tappy' crew is clear.
I tried to Google for the articles I've read about this but I didn't manage to find them.
There is in actually an immense amount of discussion online about the representation of women in the cartooning and comic book professions.
It's not an open-and-shut case that women are unambiguously respected within the fashion industry: http://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2013/11/05/why-arent-women-i...
As I don't read sanitation, construction, or plumbing forums, I haven't run into much discussion of the subject there.
There are also many apprenticeships for women in construction/plumbing, because they are 1) good-paying jobs (at least in housing booms) and 2) ones where historically women have been denied apprenticeships/union membership.
Oddly enough, there is also gender imbalance in the fashion industry, but not the way you're thinking of it. Sure, women models make WAY more money than male models, but more top designers are men: (http://www.universityobserver.ie/2012/02/06/gender-imbalance...)
Maybe you should do a little googling before you sound off about the lack of hand-wringing? Maybe it's just you who don't care.
An assertion that female behaviour or aptitude differs from male behaviour or aptitude in a way that casts women in a negative or possibly negative light is evidence of sexism and something that must be fixed.
That doesn't mean that programmer culture can't often be hostile to women, and doesn't deserve scrutiny. But that also doesn't mean that pg and YC need to be crucified for not immediately ridding the world of all "Cowboy Developer" wanted ads.
Treat people well and fairly, all along and throughout life, and let nature take it's course. Are things imbalanced right now? Absolutely. Is it because of unfairness in the past? Absolutely.
Can we speed things to being better by being unfair the other way now? Absolutely not. We create a Frankenstein of a 'better culture'.
I believe it is analogous (pun) to running pure sound through one equalizer that distorts it and then through another that tries to bring the sound back to true by using your ear. It sounds plausible, but it can never work.
Do you have any evidence for this? Because prima facie, reaching out to women does get some of them into tech fields, and we know that young women who grow up around women in tech are more likely to become such themselves. Are you claiming that we can't actually influence the number of women in tech by discriminating in their favor? Or are you just asserting that we shouldn't?
> I believe it is analogous (pun) to running pure sound through one equalizer that distorts it and then through another that tries to bring the sound back to true by using your ear. It sounds plausible, but it can never work.
OK, interesting metaphor, but you could say with equal gravity that it's like veering to the right and then correcting by turning left. The metaphors are a way to describe the truth we know, not derive it out of nothing.
You might be able to get the ratio of men-to-women for a particular career field more even, or get more blacks through college, or whatever goal you feel is important accomplished. That's absolutely true and I won't argue with that.
But do the ends justify the means? Some people might argue no while I believe you would argue yes. The person you replied to was arguing no, at least as I read it.
More that I don't think you can achieve the harmony you seek. The reason I prefer my metaphor to the left/right driving one is that I intended to allude to the complex nuance involved. Like the sound metaphor: the more you meddle, the more you screw things up.
If I really believed the 'ends' that are sought after could be achieved -- hey sure, whatever means you want, knock yourself out. I guess it's a question of a broader view of 'ends'. I assume the goal is 'harmony and fairness', but if the goal is "X/Y ratio of men to women in A,B,C fields", then sure, I guess you can achieve that.
Either I quash your argument by showing you how my grandfather was sexual discriminated against (which would by the logic that made such an argument above make discriminating against my mother justified) or we have to say that it's OK to discriminate against my daughter because of her sex.
That may be a false dichotomy (please add alternatives) but I'm nonetheless not prepared to follow the route that leads to continued discrimination based on irrelevant characteristics.