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Female Founders (paulgraham.com)
620 points by ssclafani 1377 days ago | hide | past | web | 596 comments | favorite



Judging by the comments on this article, it would appear that once you've been labeled a sexist it is downright impossible to dispel.

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.


This is the shallowness of that kind of P.C. bullying--Paul Graham has done much more for women in technology than any Internet bully, but he will continue to be attacked because it is possible to assign uncharitable interpretations to a few things he said once. When one realizes that this whole kerfuffle is not about being pro-woman, it's about posturing such that one appears to be pro-woman, then the attackers' views make more sense.

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".)


I'm reminded of Ted Kaczynski's take on P.C. activism:

"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."

http://www.churchofeuthanasia.org/resources/fc/unabe2.html#c...

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.


I was referring to a specific subset of leftist behavior which I called "P.C. bullying."

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.


I'm not saying you're anti-leftist, simply quoting someone's take on the psychology behind P.C. bullying. Not everything has to involve left/right-wing tribalism.


You say as you post a paragraph from a (whoops: not dead) terrorist's tirade against liberals. I don't think you could have possibly picked a worse example to hold up as not involving tribalism...


You are mistaken. The Unabomber is and was a horrible person. Yet I found mcantelon's quote from him to be very insightful, even if I don't agree with it in its entirety.

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.


I don't see how the example is tribalist. Ted Kaczynski, in my understanding, was a loner that was neither left or right wing. And I'm not sure why the fact he's a terrorist is relevant to his analysis.


You don't have to be in the opposite of a group to spew hate against that group. And I see very little "reasoning" in that quote, just lots of eloquently-worded polemic which weakly attempts to cast negative aspersions on an entire political view. Some of it is outright false.

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.


That's true, but that's just one quote of his (he's still alive btw). Here's another:

> 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.


Mm. But notice the difference in delivery of those two quotes. This one concerns itself with a straight true statement (progress is at odds with tradition). The worst you can say here is that he says conservatives "whine".

Much unlike the other one which implies that leftists are all about power as opposed to what they say they are.


If he's an example of tribalism, as you claimed earlier, then he should be aligned with a tribe. "The conservatives are fools" is a fairly unambiguous denunciation of that tribe. Regardless of whether you feel he favors one over the other, he clearly rejects both.


Criticism and hate seem to be increasingly conflated these days. I don't see anything in that quote that would quality as hateful.


Well, the difference is that the first one is usually fact based and best delivered neutrally. The second one is usually emotion based and delivered with harsh invective, and additionally usually doesn't concern itself with facts.


Where's the "harsh invective" in the quote?


Title of the link I am providing

"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."

http://www.paulcooijmans.com/psychology/unabombreport.html

below is a commentary by Paul Cooijmans on the report itself you might as well read that if you are lazy http://www.paulcooijmans.com/psychology/unabomber.html


Evidence suggests Kaczynski participated in MKULTRA:

http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/2000/06/chase.ht...

If so, this would have been a likely explanation for his chosen direction.


Your 'potential threat' level with the NSA has risen from 10 to 9.


He overflowed the int? Well shit...


That's why we can't have nice things. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Such bullying incidents may look like PR victories for the PC crowd in terms of shaping public opinion. What they miss though is that even when they don't backfire loudly (see "donglegate"), they turn off moderate people who are otherwise neutral or sympathetic to reasonable calls for equal opportunities. By trying to guilt trip the whole white/male segment of society as "privileged" and "misogynistic", some will bite but many won't, much more so when they feel they are unfairly put on the defensive. And while some will bend over backwards and become more Catholic than the Pope promoting their social justice causes, many will grow more and more resentful. They won't tweet and blog about it but they will be taking notes and making sure they stay the hell away from PC zealots and their ilk, be it in hiring decisions, investment funding or anything else. Congratulations, you have turned a sizable part of the silent majority into an opponent.


Yes, if only MLK and the civil rights marchers had been quieter and more obedient, I'm sure racism would be less of a problem today.


Actually MLK acted perfectly (if a little too quiet at times, though he was portrayed much more obedient that how dynamic he was).

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.


>Actually MLK acted perfectly

  Q: How many times was Dr. King arrested?
  A: He was arrested 30 times.
(From http://www.thekingcenter.org/faqs)

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?


  Q: How many times was Dr. King arrested?
  A: He was arrested 30 times.
Malcom X, by comparison, was arrested only 7 times.

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.


>>Actually MLK acted perfectly Q: How many times was Dr. King arrested? A: He was arrested 30 times.

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.


Ah, ok. Sorry for jumping to conclusions. I took it as more of the tone policing rampant in this discussion. I'm glad to hear that wasn't the intention.


Very true - MLK achieved his victories by misrepresenting and demonizing random white people who agreed with him.


The weird secret of Social Justice, including the "all white men are evil, because the group on average is successful" faction, is that it's mostly white men bullying other white men.


That reminded me of this gem from The Onion:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-finally-put-in-charge-o...


Similarly, "slut shaming", pressure to be size 0, etc, are all things done by women to keep other women in line.


You're one of the few people here that understands this. Thank you. It's mostly white men trying to be someone elses savoir to free themselves from racial tension induced white guilt.


"White Knighting" is common enough around the world. Let me save you from those horrible people (who probably aren't that horrible).


Your right about the term P.C. Bullying.

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.


I think the kind of critique here is subconsciously and pedantically picking up on general tone and perceived lack of authenticity.

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.


PG is high profile. His companies and their founders are high profile. For as long as I can remember there's been a thick thread of schadenfreude woven throughout this community's reactions to various stories that have come out about YC, from Dropbox to Airbnb to PG's supposed racism and now sexism.

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.


pg is neither a racist nor a sexist, but because he does not jump to support every pet cause of every self-described "social justice jihadi", he is lambasted as such.

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.


Just a question, why is pg in person supposed to care about equality and what happens if he loses the fight? Do you have prison sentences or civil excommunication about that?


It's nice if he supports fairness - i.e. equality of opportunity, as opposed to guaranteed outcomes. That's the best that should be expected of YC or any other selector.


Everybody is a little racist and sexist. It's quite normal for you to react differently depending on the visible characteristics of a person you are talking to, it's ingrained through millions of years of evolution. What's important is that you're not a dick about it, and you give people a fair shot in situations where those characteristics shouldn't matter.

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.


Sure, but for most people "racist" or "sexist" aren't the first words that come to mind when they think of pg - that would be "investor" or "writer", for example. Bssed on his writing he seems like a reasonable, fair, and unbiased person. Misquoted out of context, you can make someone say whatever you want to further your agenda, of course.


I agree with you. I just think "not racist and sexist" is a ridiculously high standard. I don't know when we adopted the idea that X-ism is the worst thing in the world, but it's a completely impossible to stamp out. And is it really so bad to greet a guy in Spanish in an area with a significant Mexican population based on his appearance?

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?


I think we're on the same page.

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.


> Everybody is a little racist and sexist.

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'.


>Judging by the comments on this article, it would appear that once you've been labeled a sexist it is downright impossible to dispel.

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.


Or maybe they had something happen to them or someone they know? Maybe they had someone's head on their shoulder crying their heart out? Maybe they tried standing up for them and were fired? Maybe for whatever reason they really understand what it feels like in a world where most people don't.

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.


>Or maybe they had something happen to them or someone they know? Maybe they had someone's head on their shoulder crying their heart out? Maybe they tried standing up for them and were fired? Maybe for whatever reason they really understand what it feels like in a world where most people don't.

>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.

>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.

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?


I've been openly gay for many years and I've become intimately acquainted with the varying degrees of discrimination vs, acceptance.

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 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.

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.


Ah OK. So the real problem is that my opinion is just plain wrong!

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 [1] 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' [2] from derailment bingo [3]. 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.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7039270 [2] http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Tone_argument [3] http://mlkshk.com/p/9FOI


This is how things actually roll in the real world. You can stick to your principles, but it may cost you. I do think that the PG situation is a bit of damage control. While not having enough female founders (or founders with a foreign accent) is a symptom of what's wrong, the root problems go a little deeper.

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.


The goal of a lot of the bumper sticker justice crowd is anything but justice: it's the promotion of a cause they're leeching off of, for the benefit of their own ugly vanity. It's identical to people putting a save Tibet bumper sticker on their car, while not actually doing anything meaningful. It's about the least amount of effort to pose as an activist.

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.


>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"?

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.


>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.

I've seen a lot of Twitter rage that is rather like this one: https://twitter.com/monteiro/status/416728196503973888


Nobody can ever account for all unconscious bias. It's the original sin doctrine of the social justice warrior community.


"Nobody can ever account for all bugs. It's the original sin doctrine of the programming community."

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.


How is he supposed to "fix" sexism at YC when no one is capable of identifying instances of it? Gender distributions isn't proof of sexism _at YC_. As PG has stated, YC is too far removed from the problem to be useful in combating sexism as shown by imbalanced gender distributions. So what do you expect YC to do in this case?


> "So what do you expect YC to do in this case?"

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?"


How is he acting as though sexism is a "solved problem"?


The reasons I wrote "he's acting as though sexism is a solved problem at YCombinator" are because none of his suggested solutions are about sexism at YC and this line: "More thoughtful people were willing to concede YC wasn't biased against women."

Edit: He is willing to do more about the problem generally, and I give him credit for that.


The thing that sticks out most is this: Of the very angry people who were repeatedly tweeting attacks at him after the Valleywag article, I haven't seen even one apologize. It's just sad.

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.


Then you truly weren't paying attention. At the top of comments section re: one of the articles explaining that the interview with pg left out an entire question, tptacek's apology was the top-voted comment.

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.


'tptaeck didn't tweet, it was a comment on HN, just FYI. I think you two are taking about two different things.



What's embarrassing is that this self-righteous, guilt-tripped social justice douchebag is a BDFL of Django. I wouldn't be surprised if some current or potential Django users or contributors get sick of his jihad and turn to to a different developer community.


Could you please educate the rest of us what is so upsetting about these tweets (other than the fact that he received death threats)?

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.


As a minority, I would not be comfortable around a sjw. I've been told way too many times by sjws what it's really like to be [minority category X], when I am very clearly minority category X and they are not.

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.


I remember reading these two tweets: https://twitter.com/jacobian/status/416719991963009024 https://twitter.com/jacobian/status/417776560603549696

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.


"Do you think these are fine, too?"

Seems a lot better than your own name calling.


> making people of all types feel welcome

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.


The major hurdle for fighting for men's rights are people like yourself that keep lowering the debate by not being able to conduct themselves in a decent way. Frankly, the attitudes behind why women doesn't have a place in technology or used to be barred from many sports, are the same as why men can be forced into military service or has a higher risk of injury at work.


I would never work with him or one of the other SJWs in tech (Alex Gaynor, Bryan Cantrill, Adria Richards). You know they would be more than happy to ruin you if you slip up and say something remotely non-progressive, or that can be twisted to sound non-progressive.


Bryan Cantrill

Citation please.



Thanks!

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.[0] Reading that, it's pretty obvious he's the only adult involved in that whole fiasco. Seriously, W.T.F.

[0] https://github.com/joyent/libuv/pull/1015#issuecomment-29568...


Maybe I missed tptacek's tweet both times

relevant> https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6986829



Add ?share=1 as a parameter at the end to get rid of the nagging modal window.


Done, thanks


I misread 'equality monk' as 'equity monk.' Now there's an interesting term... for startup founders and early stage employees perhaps.


So true, in the end, it's not pg's fault if there is sexism and racism in the tech industry. They are doing their bit to improve the situation. Others should also try and do the same.


How much sexism and racism is there really in the tech industry? Most tech companies are quite the rainbow - 5 or 6 different native languages in a small company is not uncommon.


Only woked in 3 companies in 7 years but on the field, women in IT benefit a lot from positive discrimination. In fact they're promoted to managing jobs much sooner after they ask than men as far as I saw examples. Sexism is much more of a problem in the food industry and so on, so I would recommend IT jobs to girls if they want a great career with few hassles.

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 would recommend IT jobs to girls if they want a great career with few hassles."

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.


Yes, I agree with you, I don't think there is much specially in startups (although I don't have any proof to support this claim).


Indeed you can word something that could become misinterpreted and taken out of context and hung for it for all effect and thats even when you zoom out the context for the offended party. In part and I'm going to be blunt, women have historicaly been a bit repressed in some areas by some mindsets/people and those who have not read about others in such situations. There offended and rightly so, they can then sometimes see the worst and become overly deffencive and I can understand that as it is human nature to compensate and intellegent to learn from others mistakes. Sadly though the written word and conversations out of context can easily be seen as bad when the intention was never even there.

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.


Accusing others of being witches shows off your own moral purity. It also gives a feeling of power, a critical mass of the American tech crowd comes from the PC left that is large enough to set off a mob. The ultimate feeling of importance comes when a witch is burned (fired from his job). PG is a poorly chosen target in some sense, since he will be extremely hard to fire - although public humiliation is also satisfying to SJWs[1].

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.

[1] http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Struggle_session


> One of the classic phenomena of witch hunts is when the hunt comes back to bag an original instigator.

Like Robespierre?


My main takeaway from reading this article and the comments here is: The awareness of this problem is still very nascent and more & more solutions are emerging, as are criticisms of people who are beginning to acknowledge this problem.

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?


Aside: I've looked at that BlackGirlsCode link a bit more and I'm quite shocked that such segregation is encouraged, lauded even. Now there's some argument to support educating the sexes separately but if you're an asian girl living in Brooklyn (say) you can't go? Just because you're Asian ... ??? Really? What if you're half-Asian+half-African, how about your skins black but you're South American. Damn.

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.*"
If the racial divide is so disheartening why add your own. If you want to help the disadvantaged then help the disadvantaged not "all the disadvantaged with the right skin colour". Damn.

[redacted]

Edit: I've redacted my over-flamy end comment.


Hey I'm a white dude and I've worked with Black Girls Code on a few workshops. Just FYI girls of any race are allowed, it's just that this particular group caters primarily to black girls.

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.


Thanks for your comment and your work - beta is one of the tools being used at BGC isn't it¹. More power to your arm! [or firings to your synapses or whatever].

>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/


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.

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.


Thanks for the link to scalzi [1] - "Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is". It was a really good read.

[1]: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-th...


I'm not a SWM and I think this stupid article has done a lot to damage the cause of equality. It is tactically, morally, and ethically stupid. I wish people would stop linking it, but sjws gonna sjw, I guess. Getting an angry response from disadvantaged people is more entertaining than doing the dull dreary or the high risk scary work of actually helping underprivileged succeed.

Ugh.


Could you explain what harm you think this article has done, and which disadvantage people are providing the angry response?


All the liberal white guys growing up to middle class parents in California read that and say "I guess I should feel really guilty for all I've been given in life".

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[1] and driving social justice warriors crazy.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_Un...


Asians throw the "white privilege" theory for a loop, because they face the same challenges as other people of color, and yet still manage to succeed admirably. Victim-lovers don't like them for that very reason, because they don't play very good racial victims - they are too busy succeeding.


Not at all. That one group has privilege doesn't mean no other group can. Here, for example, is a programmer talking about how he was privileged for looking like an Asian guy: http://pgbovine.net/tech-privilege.htm

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


This collectivism grouping of people with 'privilege' is so bogus it's astounding that people follow it so blindly.

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?


If a lot of people see something you don't, they could all be deluded. Or you could just be missing something. Also, people aren't going to take you very seriously if you run around accusing them of being blind. Even when you're right.

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.


I have no doubt that systemic racism still exists, particularly in the United States.

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.


So your theory is that when I note my privilege, I am vilifying... myself?

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.


No, that is not what I said. I said calling it privilege only stands as a reason to vilify a group. Whether or not you choose to do that is up to you. You and many others seem to have taken the tact of creating a sense of responsibility to those who you deem to be privileged based on something they have had zero control over - their name, gender or ethnic backgrounds.

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.


You seem to have a lot of opinions on the right way to do this. What experience do you have that would encourage others to give weight to your opinions? Perhaps you can share a couple of your notable successes and a couple of instructive failures.

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.


My experience is that of a white male. Does that make my opinions or viewpoint any less valid in your eyes?

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.


Your opinions are less valid when they make assumptions about the lived experience of other people. This is what the concept of 'privilege' is useful for - removing the unconscious bias that is loaded into your view of how other people experience the world.

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.


Yes. That is one of the ways that the concept of privilege has been most useful to me: in getting me to pay attention to my unconscious biases.

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.


Well good news: the reason I talk about privilege is to help the disadvantaged without vilifying anybody. If somebody is doing some vilifying somewhere, maybe you should go talk to them.

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.


People aren't doing any vilifying? Have you not been witness to the absolute carnage that has ensued for Paul Graham since being misquoted? Are we actually communicating on the same website right 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 did not closely follow the Graham thing. I did not say that nobody was doing any vilifying. I said that if somebody was, you should be talking to them, not me.

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.


He just hasn't mastered the social justice narrative. He is being oppressed by the white stereotype that Asians are smart.


The Asian article was interesting. It is, however, downplayed

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...


How about Sunni / Shia muslims in Iraq under Saddam? The Shia population is by far the majority, but Saddam was Sunni. The Ba'ath party violently persecuted the Shia popluation. I think it is safe to say that you would be privileged to be Sunni in this population, even though they by no means constituted the majority.

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 [1].

[1]: http://www.jimchines.com/2012/05/facts-are-cool/

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?


"Sounds strange" is part of how privilege works.

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.


I didn't explain what I meant very well.

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.


Ah, I see what you're saying. Sorry for the confusion.

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.


From the [FAQ]:

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.

[FAQ]: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/17/lowest-difficulty-sett...


I'm certainly not saying that anybody's accomplishments are hollow, and I'm not saying anybody should feel guilty. Neither I nor Scalzi feels guilty about having privilege. The question for us is what we do with it.


Haha, I see that you are still posting links to that scalzi crap.


And as long as guys are still acting in ignorance of their privilege, I'll keep posting that and similar resources.

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.


How do you know he's a straight white male? Can you tell race, genitalia, and sexual orientation by typing style? Are you going to tell me to check my male privilege next?


If somebody other than a straight white male has freaked out about the Scalzi piece, I haven't seen it yet. If Jim Zvz is not among that group, he is welcome to correct me, and to be clearer about his concerns about the piece.


Until you've been a victim of the kind of systemic racism they are trying to reverse, maybe consider that you know nothing about how such efforts should market themselves?


Thanks, I guess? I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic it's hard to tell online. Just so you know I am not trying to argue with you, just sharing my experience with BGC.

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.


Every time...

Theory: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6441795

Potential examples:

  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
I'm going to just keep on collecting these links and post the list on every instance I see. This will be added as the 9th.


That's the amazing thing about threading. One can comment on a specific issue without derailing a main thread. I noted it was an aside (OT if you prefer) - I don't see how allowing the promotion of racism helps the thread any more than my your injunction to others to ignore it. If you don't want to comment, don't. It's an affront to the community here IMO for you to tell us what we may or may not discuss.

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.


Yes I did edit. My original comment was congratulating & encouraging HN for ignoring & downvoting your comment but then the replies started coming in and your comment was no longer greyed-out, so instead I just changed my comment into my standard copy&paste list and you are now the 9th on the list when the next time I need to post it arises.

That is all.


Why the fuck is this being downvoted?

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.


> 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?

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.


Come back when black women run the Federal Reserve and have corrupted it to their own benefit. Then, maybe, we can talk about "backfiring."


It is not like profit from white males running Federal Reserves automatically goes to underadvantaged white males.

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.


> 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.

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.


Polling can be done anonymously and posteriori.

Doing it a-priori is not needed and has serious implications.


I didn't downvote you.


Having grown up in a poor rural area without access to the internet until the age of 18, I get pretty pissed off when leftists judge me based on my genitals and skin color. Where do they get off assuming that I've had everything in life handed to me because I'm a white male? When did it become acceptable behavior to say that to a person's face?


That's not the only way a project can backfire.

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.


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."

Funny, fraternity/sorority membership is not interpreted so negatively as to mean the person needs special help acquiring social connections.


Your comment is insinuating that Asian, Indian, etc women and men have corrupted it for their own beefit, and that this corruption somehow benefits a mutual-aid society of white males. Is that what you intend to claim?


I don't think so, but I can't quite make out what words you're trying to ascribe to me.


Have you ever heard of the term "old boys club", how about "glass ceiling"? These terms didn't come out of a vacuum.


How about the "glass floor"?


This is troll under the guise of charity.

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.


You make a great point aboit the use of English for documentation, and the need for translation to other languages to promote computing in different nations.

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".


Dan, even using english as a first language - I have a difficult time articulating this subject.

1. English

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!


The problem is that you don't understand what racism is. Racism isn't just treating someone differently because she belongs to a different race. Racism has more to do with power dynamics than with color of a person's skin.

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.


While that's an interesting view, it's also wrong. It might make for a good way of justifying things in your mind, 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.


Hey, you know what? If every black person sees you and thinks "honkey," you will likely experience hurt feelings, and a slight discomfort when in certain neighborhoods. You probably will stop going to those places. It would be very hard to blame lack of progress in your professional or academic career on this perception. You could go almost your whole life without that perception having any tangible manifestation in your life.

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!


> "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.


>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!

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.


(Sorry, accidental downvote while attempting to select text)

> 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.


It makes sense to divide Hispanic and non-Hispanic White if we are performing this categorization for the purpose of analysing discrimination. This is because traditionally Hispanics have been discriminated against by non-Hispanic Whites. The same could be said for the Irish, or Catholics... but Protestant/Catholic discrimination seems to have simmered down 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.


Christopher Lane


It is racism. It's just that it's racism you appear to like.


Nonsense. It is not racism at all, especially considering the group is open to girls of all racial backgrounds.


[deleted]


>an opportunity created for one person //

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.


There are plenty of other isms besides racism. Eye-colorism is a different kind of discrimination than racism, unless eye color is just a proxy for race (which is quite possible). Discriminating based on gender is called sexism, discriminating baed on nationality is called nationalism, etc...


Discrimination based on femins is feminism and discriminations based on socials is socialism and discrimination against babars is barbarism.

People learning English might be interested in my English Stack Exchange question: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/142750/why-is-fem...


> The problem is that you don't understand what racism is. Racism isn't just treating someone differently because she belongs to a different race. Racism has more to do with power dynamics than with color of a person's skin.

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?"


erm, it is a potentially racist organization, here's why: BlackGirlsCode is specifically geared for one power dynamic, black girls vs white girls. While they may be attempting to level the playing field between white and black which is politically and socially acceptable, they are furthering the gap between black and (pick an underrepresented minority). This exclusivity is exactly how every power came into power and subjugated the rest. From the very beginning the set of principles that guide this rationale of pragmatism while understandable, is hypocritical.


No: Black Girls Code is focusing on

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.


You're right, but I'd say my comparison is at least a subset of what you're covering.

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.


Ah, please regale us with your tales of successfully combatting racism and evening a tilted playing field. I know many people who need the benefit of your undoubtedly extensive experience in the trenches. I'm sure that your comment is not merely an uninformed effort made from your armchair.


I'm half black half white, born of a polish father who managed to make it from Poland in 1975, and an army brat african american mother. I grew up in a predominantly white irish and white jewish community on the North Shore of Chicago, racism was subtle but it was there. My older sister has significant experience in this particular field as a woman who was pushed into various programs like this. I happened to end up in CEED at UCLA, a minority focused engineering program and went through the fun stuff of National Achievement related stuff.

So, I know something of the subject.


This in no way diminishes the ridiculousness of the statements you have made. In fact, it makes it all the more perplexing why and how you think that BGC is on the same spectrum as the massacre of the Tutsis in Rwanda, as given your background, perhaps it should be expected of you to know just a little better than that.


The analogy is one of how principle matters. There are plenty historical examples of minority groups defending and supporting themselves, rightly so, some would say, and eventually gaining power and subjugating others. The one thing that rarely changes in those organizations is the principles behind them. Those with little power in the beginning can only defend themselves, with great power they can do that by subjugation of others.

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.


No. Your position is ridiculous, as in it deserves ridicule. A stupid but equally valid conclusion falling out of your absurd insistence that the principles at play -- as you identify and interpret them -- must not have any overlap with those of historically oppressive regimes would be for me to stop segregating my flour and sugar in my cupboard. These same principles of segregation -- as you define it so broadly as to be without meaning almost -- are at play in my kitchen and I can extend your silly argument to conclude that I also have been sowing the seeds of oppression in the place where I keep my food!

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.


> BlackGirlsCode is specifically geared for one power dynamic, black girls vs white girls.

I'm pretty sure its not geared for that at all.


This was in context to the previous comment about power dynamics, but you're right.


> This was in context to the previous comment about power dynamics

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.


can a white girl join black girls who code? a conflict nonetheless exists whether or not it is intended by the organization. remember the segregation concept of 'separate but equal' ? it wasn't intended and it was not the focus of segregation to deliver unequal qualities of life, but by the implementation that is exactly what happened and I'd say, conflicts created by organizations like this shouldn't be ignored. you call it misleading, I say it should be addressed. I wouldn't sacrifice the principal for the pragmatism.


> can a white girl join black girls who code?

From everything I've seen about their actual policies, including in this thread, yes.


Well that just sunk a big chunk of my argument, hah!


>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.

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.


Is BlackGirlsCode, not OnlyBlackGirlsCode. Is a message that something is possible, not that the skill is exclusive.

I suspect you are fully aware of this anyway and are just disrailing the argument for fun.


No derailment intended - I was genuinely shocked. That may have made my response more emotional that it should have been.


Well, your language does not read as being genuine. To be frank, it reads like someone faking caring for rhetorical effect in order to to cause an argument. I currently do not believe that you are arguing in good faith.


Your language does not read as being genuine. To be frank, it reads like someone trying to derail the discussion by critiquing someone else's tone. I currently do not believe that you are arguing in good faith.

Do you see how stupid you sound?


Oh yes, he's shocked, he's genuinely shocked, he finds it all such a shame.

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 haven't just discovered the concept of affirmative action. I don't live in the country in question either FWIW.

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?


Ok, the reason I was questioning your sincerity was not because of the argument presented, as much as that the subject combined with some of the language cues and the context set off some sort of baysian based bullshit detector in my head that was ringing like a big fucking gong. It isn't always perfect, but it is usually good and it was ringing pretty loudly, which is why I stopped beating around the bush. I am not the only person here, looking at the other comments, that strongly suspected you of trolling here. If you are not, then you have my complete apologies.

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.


You've added nothing but questioning his character and then a string of baseless insults.

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.


To be fair, your main addition in this so far has been to parrot me then to say I sound stupid, which I may well do and I completely entertain it as a possibility, however I am not sure it puts you down for insightful contribution of the year here either.


I'm registering these domains as quickly as I can.

WhiteMenFromReallyPoorBackgroundsCode HalfDominicanHalfHaitianOrphansCode TransgenderThaisCode DarkSkinnedBraziliansWhoArentOfAfricanDescentCode


To add my own experiential insight as a female who started coding at 11 (without the aid or encouragment of a parent like you!)...

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.


>"expression" >"design" >"communicative purpose" >"social dynamics" >"affect people with what I was making" >"impressing friends/boyfriends"

>"coding" >websites

No need to declare that you're a blogger. It's obvious.


I'm not sure if this is an insult, but it reads like one.


yep. and the culture of internet snark and bullying certainly isn't helping this problem.


That was untoward and uncalled for.


Based on my daughter and her friends, involvement in Lego Mindstorms robotics and First Lego League competitions is another great way to get girls interested in programming and technology.


YES. I am male, but this is how I got into hacking. Absolutely brilliant way to merge tech and play.


I can second this—I am not a woman myself, but my dear sister got into programming that way. (I did too.)


I wanted a Lego Mindstorm kit so badly as a kid, but my parents never got me one. I think my life would have been a lot different if my home situation had at least afforded me that one thing.


My former advisor, Leah Buechley, and other friends created this introduction to programming and electronics via e-textiles and the LilyPad Arduino: http://sewelectric.org/

More here: http://highlowtech.org



For role models, Limor Fried (owner of http://www.adafruit.com/) and Vi Hart (http://www.youtube.com/user/Vihart) are both super awesome!


don't forget jeri ellsworth, who is imo the most talented hacker out there today, male or female...

http://www.youtube.com/user/jeriellsworth


I linked some mentoring resources further down, specific to connecting high schoolers with female role models. (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7039716)

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.


Hey great list. I'm working on a game that teaches programming and game design. It's now available for download at www.betathegame.com. One of our co-founders is a female!


this is probably the most constructive thing anyone could have done. this is a great list. thanks!


Just started looking at this but could be really great:

Super Scratch Programming Adventure!

http://www.nostarch.com/scratch


http://railsgirls.com is an excellent program.


Nicely done, Mike, hope others see this and upvote you.


Also: Society of Women Engineers [SWE].


Thanks Mike!



And what are you going to do if your daughter wants to be a veterinarian? Is that a problem?


Why would he? And why are you asking this question? There's nothing in what he wrote that indicates that he would do that. Please don't bring negativity into this surprisingly positive and constructive sub thread.


Point taken. I object to the phrasing though. People having their own individual interests, sometimes non-technical, is not a problem.

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.


Sorry you're being downvoted. It's a fair question. I plan on exposing her to as many topics as I can. I'll support whatever path she takes. My job, as I see it, is partly to give her a taste of as many topics as possible, then to help guide her as her interests begin to emerge.


Thanks. I find it odd that supposedly pro-female movements denigrate all the things that women have participated in over the years. Women have always been with us, and they haven't been sitting around all day doing nothing! But we tell young girls nowadays that to be valuable, they have to do things that boys are doing.

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.


It's not that being a stay-at-home mom isn't valuable it's that you're giving up your independence. For most of history women of course didn't have much of a choice, even if they were educated.


Do you not know that Veterinary Medicine is heavily populated with women?


I think that was part of the point being made.


I find the outrage over this so disingenuous. It looks to me like it's more about punishing someone for being a high-profile member of a hated, perceived-oppressor group than actually caring about women being programmers.

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.


Note that there is no similar hand-wringing about the lack of women in the fields of sanitation, construction, plumbing or cartooning. Likewise, not much hubbub about the gender imbalance in the fashion industry.

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.


> Note that there is no similar hand-wringing about the lack of women in the fields of sanitation, construction,

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.


The fact that you know of programs "to get men into nursing or women into construction" that have been "posted to HN before" or have seen some claim "debunked" in the past doesn't mean the person you're writing to has.

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.


I haven't seen much talk about construction at all here on HN. It's a tech site, full of techies, talking about tech. Of course tech will be an overwhelmingly popular topic here.


Do you spend time on construction forums every day, hearing about the latest trends in construction? I would guess not, which is why you don't hear much about what is going on there.


DanBC was talking about HN specifically.


> FWIW, I read HN pretty regularly and had never noticed any programs to get more women into construction.

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.


The women into construction line seems to be specific to a certain type of poster. It's a trope that gets trotted out by people who have seen it somewhere else.


'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.'

Well then, since I'm spouting "bullshit" (your words):

Educate me. Let me play the "Citation Needed" card.


Just search HN for [women construction] and you'll see a bunch of MRAs making the point that there are no programmes to get women into construction, and people giving examples of such programmes across a range of countries.

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.


"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.


Someone always always makes the same point as you and for some reason it always manages to infuriate me

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.


Well, a couple thoughts.

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.


'I think we absolutely need to make this field more friendly to women.'

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?


Certain parties like to fuel the outrage flame because they make money on clickbait. There are also just people with an axe to grind that get off on starting fights. Then you have people that will swear up and down that there is no gender problem in tech, nothing wrong with 'brogrammer' culture, etc. The reasonable people in the middle all think they are arguing against the extreme views, but just end up fighting each other because they misunderstand each others' view points. You have people that have directly experienced sexism in tech thinking they are arguing with the deniers when in actuality they are arguing with people who think their interlocutors are just the angry people looking for a fight.

Messy. And no women are persuaded to learn programming, and no one wins but those websites making money on advertising. Everyone comes away angry.


Oppressed minorities have historically been excluded from highly desirable fields. As a consequence even today you see few black people in, say, Princeton or investment banking. This is most certainly not because black people (or women) think differently. The status quo just takes a long time to improve, especially when people pigheadedly deny there's a societal problem.


I can't speak to investment banking, but Princeton student demographic data is available at http://www.princeton.edu/pub/profile/admission/undergraduate... and the numbers actually surprised me a bit.

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"...


I wasn't picking on Princeton specifically. I used Princeton as a placeholder for an Ivy League or otherwise prominent institution.

There are also substantial differences between Ivy League schools: http://www.nationaljournal.com/thenextamerica/education/ivy-...


Ah, OK, it sounded like you'd picked Princeton in particular.

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. :(


That's an interesting factor that I never thought about in admissions of universities. Location and ethnic makeup of a state might have impact on the enrollment of minorities, though I don't think it's substantive it might have an impact.


I agree history has been shitty.

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?


Although I'm sure you mean well this comment comes across as out of touch with reality.

- 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.


I think a major argument against this, in the field of programming in particular, is that most of those other field-related imbalances are culture-neutral. You'll find more male sanitation workers, construction workers, plumbers, etc. everywhere from the US, to Brazil, to China, to Russia, to Pakistan. (Controlling, of course, for the more general inequities in employment-by-gender that those cultures face.)

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.


>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.


Do you have any statistics for your claim about female programmers in India? I have yet to meet a single Indian programmer who was female in the decade and a half I have been programming. In fact, the only females in tech of Indian heritage that I know have been US-born.


I don't have statistics, but Apple sent me to India/Infosys in 2009 to train their programmers, and it seemed about 50/50 to me (I worked with a few hundred people). I have no idea if that's representative, but I have no reason to think it isn't.


For a girl in India, studying computer science is one of the best options. Jobs are abound, pay relatively well and work environment is thousand times better and safer when compared to other industries. This I guess, explains what you observed on your trip.


I think it's more about first world culture and career opportunities.

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.


The Scandinavian countries rank high, probably the highest, when it comes to gender equality. They also rank high when it comes to having a gender segregated labour market. You might find more women in STEM in a third world country that has less gender equality than in a Scandinavian country. One possible explanation is that these countries are affluent while countries with more gender inequality tend to be less affluent. If you don't have a social safety net, and maybe even have to rely on finding a husband to provide for you and all the uncertainty that goes with that, if you don't find a job for yourself that is lucrative enough, STEM might be a good choice. But if you live in a country with both a lot of gender equality and income equality? Then money doesn't factor into it that much anymore...

I tried to Google for the articles I've read about this but I didn't manage to find them.


You won't find what you're not looking for.

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.


Actually, the lack of women in cartooning/comics is a topic that has been written about quite often, here's an example: http://comicsalliance.com/superhero-comics-women-sexism/

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.


Yes they do. But y'know this is a techy site, so people are gonna talk about tech.


An assertion that female behaviour or aptitude differs from male behaviour or aptitude in a way that casts women in a positive light is valid.[1]

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.[2]

[1] http://hbr.org/2011/06/defend-your-research-what-makes-a-tea...

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/world/us-news-blog/2013/feb/05/gi...


Usually when people are making the argument that "men and women think differently", it is an excuse for why the status quo should remain so. Yes, we all know that men and women have different brains and may not be interested in programming in the same percentages.

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.


I think Paul nails it. And I think there are a lot of really misguided social engineers in these comments.

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.


> Can we speed things to being better by being unfair the other way now? Absolutely not.

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.


I think the argument is that a society which is constantly discriminating against people one way or the other for "arbitrary reason X of historical importance to group Y" isn't the right way for society to work.

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.


I wouldn't say it's about ends justifying means.

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.


Are you prepared to argue that because my mother was discriminated against in the past based on her sex it's now moral to discriminate against me (male) because of my sex?

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.


The justification for affirmative action is not past discrimination itself, but its continued effects. Many groups have been discriminated against but recovered; there is no affirmative action for the Irish. For those that haven't, we use affirmative action. Thus, we wouldn't discriminate against your daughter entering tech unless men had in the meantime become ostracized as unmanly for pursuing tech, which is unlikely.

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