Hmm, I'm curious - who is this person? How does she portray herself? Are there any other possible reasons people might view her as someone working in the general HR space?
I can't imagine why a consultant who helps with "Technical Interview/Recruiting Consulting" (as well as "Acquisition/Acqui-hire interview prep") would be perceived as a recruiter. Definitely due to gender.
But that wasn't the example referenced. The example referenced about doing a talk on coding topics (data structures, algorithms, code) for an hour and having some ask about my "prior" role as a recruiter.
I went to your homepage, and "programmer" is just a small piece of the subtitle. I look at your first 6 panels, 4 of which (the leftmost 4) are about recruiter/interview stuff, 1 is programming, and 1 is "other". I scroll down to your blog and books, and everything on the homepage is about recruiting or interviewing.
If the vast majority of your homepage is recruiting, it's hardly unreasonable to think you are a recruiter. That's true even if you slap the word "programmer" and "CS degree" in a couple of places.
If you believe your webpage portrays you as a programmer, I suggest you might want to work on your messaging. Consider the possibility that your in-person messaging is similarly off.
(Of course, you seem pretty successful as a recruiter/author/interview coach, so perhaps leave the messaging as is and just be more aware of it.)
This is about someone talking to me AFTER A TALK ABOUT CODING and starting a sentence with, "So when you were a recruiter at Google, ..."
I wasn't there. I can't rule out the possibility that you a) didn't list this talk on your site, b) discussed a completely different topic than all your other listed talks and c) convey a completely different impression than your online persona.
But I hope you can understand why I, and many others, find this claim a bit implausible.
This talk discussed coding at far more depth than the vast majority of recruiters could do. How many recruiters could tell you about big O time? Binary trees? Breadth first search? Not many.
Also, are you actually trying to argue that gender isn't a factor in how people perceive someone?
Tell me how you would like to brush off these examples:
1. Someone asking me at a conference exclusively for programmers where you MUST be a programmer to attend [there are no company booths or anything like that] if I've ever considered learning to code.
2. Someone asking me in my first week at Google if I'm new to marketing. This was in an office that was exclusively engineering. There was no marketing team there. I was just walking down the hall and said someone came up to say this.
3. At a small event where at least 50% of the people worked for Microsoft or Amazon, someone starting off the conversation with "So I assume you don't work for Microsoft or Amazon."
4. At an event which was very, very programmer heavy, someone walking up and saying "hey it must be great for you to meet all these programmers. At least you've got someone to fix your computer."
5. Someone referring to me at CES, where I was staffing the Google booth, as a "booth babe." (Keep in mind that CES doesn't really have booth babes, nor was I dressed at all like a booth babe.
6. Someone actually specifically admitting that he was surprised that I was teaching technical interview topics. He specifically said that he assumed otherwise because I was female.
7. On a technical interview video on YouTube, 2/3rds of the comments are either overtly sexual or overtly sexist (e.g., "I would've hit on the interviewer. I wouldn't be able to focus on the problems!", "Good tits").
This stuff happens all the time. Note that #1 through #5 had nothing to do with my working in the interview space. #6 and #7 is pretty clearly gender related.
As a person outside HR, I mentally lump the entire field into the one corner I interact with. I know it's technically wrong - once when I worked at a big company I met a non-recruiter HR person. But it's fairly normal.
Similarly, to non-tech people, I'm a programmer rather than a data scientist, and I used to be a professor rather than postdoc ("wtf is a postdoc?" "it's like professor but I get paid less").
Also, are you actually trying to argue that gender isn't a factor in how people perceive someone
I'm arguing that when a person who advertises themselves online as being in HR and gives talks about HR, it's plausible that people might perceive them as being in HR for non-sexist reasons.
Making the leap from "HR as a whole" to "the only part of HR I ever interact with" is just human nature.
But again, the situation isn't "someone looked at my website and thought I was a recruiter" or "someone saw that I was doing hiring consulting and thought I was a recruiter".
It's giving a talk which is talking in depth about technical topics, far more so than the vast majority of recruiters could do, and then having someone say, "So when you were a recruiter at Google..."
This is just one little example. Not a big deal. Except that things like this happen all the time. You can't just continue to brush them off as "oh, well, it was just because you do this other stuff that the person didn't even know about."
I'm glad you challenge people's stupid assumptions.
Assuming a person USED to adhere to a gender/race/group stereotype is a weird thing.
But because she's a woman who knows both programming and job interviews, you latch onto her recruiting aspect, and not her programming side. And note that people assumed she was a recruiter and not a programmer after she'd been talking code for an hour, not after she'd been talking job interviews for an hour.
It's not just about what she is, it's about how people choose to look at her, based on her gender.
If you look at her blog, you will not assume she writes much code now days. If you look at the topics she speaks on, you will probably assume she doesn't write much code. If you look at what consulting services she provides, you'll assume that you can't hire her to write code for your company.
Perhaps this one talk was not listed on her site. Perhaps no one in the audience looked up her website to find out who she was while she was speaking. Perhaps, the speakers information was completely different than the way she presents what she does on her website.
Or maybe they didn't think she is currently working as a programmer because...well it doesn't currently look like she is primarily writing code for a living.
Oh, and by the way -- still write a ton of code.
"when you 'talk about' code for an hour and still ppl think you're a recruiter, that's not about gender - that's about your tech skill: people don't think you are a good coder. You looked like a saleman in that case if you are a guy or a recruiter if you are a girl. The key thing here is not your gender. You were looked down upon not because you are a female engineer, it's solely because you are an incapable coder thus don't deserve the certain level of respect you expected."
So, first of all, the person is denying that it was about gender while basically saying that it is.
If man -> sales
If woman -> recruiter
That... sounds like gender to me.
Moreover, this person was suggesting that "incapable coder" -> not a coder. Which is sort of weird.
Thus, the gender bias is as to which non-technical role the poster puts you in, not whether they think you are non-technical.
Yes, I was wrong to indicate there was nothing sexist at all about the post. I was thinking primarily of the non-technical part.
> Moreover, this person was suggesting that "incapable coder" -> not a coder. Which is sort of weird.
I see that sentiment expressed about programmers of all types. It's the idea that if you are not at a certain level you are a faker, and thus not really a "coder". I see such accusations leveled at people constantly, without regard to gender.
The core point I was making is that you are not being typecast as non-technical for being a woman. You are being typecast for the writings for which you are best known, not for being a woman.
EDIT: So, I posted this reply from my comments view four hours after my GP post. Then I went back and read your other comments. In that context, I change my opinion. The submitted blog post needs the details you posted in this thread, and on it's own does present a very strong argument.
It is absurd to talk with someone about code for an hour and assume they are a recruiter.
What was the talk on? Coding? Seems a bit broad, what was it actually on? Was it about passing technical questions in for programmer interviews? Details about some of the questions and ways methodologies to reach solutions?
If something seems utterly absurd to you, it might be because it is.
Interesting you can't imagine this, because as a woman, similar situations as Gayle's have happened to me and to every female programmer I know. I have talked about code to people at language and framework-specific meetups only for them to later assume I'm not a programmer.
If someone refers to be as an author now, that's totally fine.
Again THIS was the example. Stop constructing straw mans.
You appear to be upset when people point out that there may be some non-gender reasons for assuming you are working in a role other than writing code. Please keep in mind that from the article there is very little information about the particulars of the talk in question. However, anyone who tries to fill in the gaps by looking at your lists of topics for recent talks, your website, etc., is going to assume you don't current write much code and that most of your work is done in the technical aspects of the interview process.
If I talk to someone who used to be a programmer but not is obviously working in an HR recruiting role, I will probably consider them to be a recruiter. This isn't an insult...it is just the way we categorize people by what they do currently.
There are situations where it's reasonable to assume that I'm a recruiter, even if that assumption happens to be wrong. But this situation wasn't one of them.
It would also be fine to say that I'm not a programmer, depending on what you mean by that. I am a programmer, just like I'm an author. If you define it though as someone who is currently employed exclusively as a software developer, then sure, I'm not a software developer presently. But again, this isn't the situation being described.
This is a specific situation in which someone was at a talk where I spent an hour talking about big O time, data structures, algorithms, modularizing code, and a bunch of other technical talks and then asked me about my time as a recruiter at Google. It wouldn't matter if my website now said in giant flashing letters "HELLO I AM A RECRUITER." The person wasn't looking at the website (which didn't even exist then, at least not in that form).
Random internet comments? Unscientific internet polls?
I honestly can't figure out a reason why any of this is any more relevant or scientific than a youtube comments argument about why some band does or does not suck monkey chode.
HN fucking sucks for these topics.
Yes, of course you can doubt people's ability regardless of their gender, but it doesn't happen regardless of gender, it happens because of gender. People start out thinking: "Woman. Probably not a good coder. Ah, see? She knows about job interviews! She's a recruiter! Not a programmer at all." Had it been a man, they'd be: "Hey, this programmer knows a lot about job interviews!"
No, your logic is flawed. Let's say there is a population of 1,000 male programmers, with a normal distribution of IQ (mean 100, S.D. 15), and therefore 15.87% are at or above 1 sigma. That's 159 male programmers, more or less, regarded as exceptional.
Let's further say that we have a population of 100 female programmers with exactly the same statistical breakdown, with 15.87% above 1 sigma, reflecting the IQ stats for the population as a whole, male and female. This makes 16 female programmers, more or less, regarded as exceptional.
This means (a) there are more exceptional male programmers by count than female programmers, but it also means that (b) statistically, a selected male programmer is likely to be equal to a selected female programmer, and the more programmers you compare, the more equal the outcome becomes.
emp / tmp = efp / tfp = 15.87%
emp = exceptional male programmers
tmp = total male programmers
efp = exceptional female programmers
tfp = total female programmers
This means that your claim above:
> So the male candidate is probably better a coder most of the time.
Is perfect nonsense, and coincidentally calls into question the presumed intellectual superiority of males.
If ability is normally distributed for a given sex (and the mean of the ability of the same), then it is true that there would be more above-average male programmers than female programmers - just as there are more male programmers than female programmers at any skill level. If you are provided a skilled programmer, they are most likely male. And if you are provided any programmer, they are most likely male. However, If you pick a random male programmer and a random female programmer, the woman is just as likely to be a good coder as the man.
This means that if you are talking to an anonymous person online and they are a good coder, you should assume they are male (if you're going to assume anything). This does not work backwards - if you are talking to a female programmer and you do not know their coding ability, it would not be particularly likely that they are a poor coder.
Consider it from the point of view of the female coder: in every discussion, people will always start out assuming either that she is male or that she can't code. And it's up to her to either correct that (with all the crap that often comes with it) or not, and let people believe there are no female coders. Constantly running into people assuming you don't exist, can be very demotivating, and may lead her to look for a more welcoming job. Let's not do that anymore, okay?
That might have been what you meant, but it isn't what you said. You said:
> Then we can conclude that there are more male programmers that are above this mean.
Not as a percentage of their cohort, which is the only rational way of expressing this idea.
Which would imply the probability of a woman being a good coder was lower from the probability of a man being a good coder.
This is quite different to the probability of a good programmer being a man being higher than the probability of a good programmer being a woman.
I mean, the probability of a good programmer being swedish isn't that high but it doesn't tell you much about the quality of programming in Sweden.
If so that would be incorrect.
You have dropped the qualifier "programmers", also if you hadn't done that, you aren't adjusting for population sizes, therefore you have left the realm of rational discourse.
As to males versus females, adjusted for population size, they're equal (and this is a statistic, not a popular PC pronouncement). As to male programmers versus female programmers, without specific data but knowing that women are better at calculation, we can safely conclude that their population-adjusted abilities are either equal or contradict your implied thesis.
The supreme irony of this conversation is that, if you were any good at calculation, you would see the systematic error in your claims. There's a large element of self-reference here.
I've no idea how it currently is, but back when I was studying the ratio was something like 90% male in some curriculums. (There were exceptions, e.g. chemistry or biology, but they were rather rare.) Has this changed since?
I'm all for encouraging more women getting into STEM, but this needs to be a two-pronged approach. Without dramatic improvements to tech culture encouraging more women to study tech is mostly pointless.
FWIW, my engineering class was ~85% male. My working environments have been consistently 95%+ male. The industry is doing considerably worse than academia.
It'd be pretty unlikely to hear a recruiter talk at such a technical level.
Different people will interpret the term differently. Based on your website and your book, you portray yourself as a Recruiting Consultant. So my assumption after seeing all the material you presented is that you are a programmer in the sense that you CAN program (and possibly well given the success of your book) but you are not necessarily a programmer in the sense that you don't do that for a living.
For me, I wouldn't call you a "programmer" unless you did "computer programming" for a living, but that's just how I use the term. I would call you a recruiting consultant, and for me that's no better or worse than "programmer".
Of course, if you define it in the sense of what someone can do, has been employed specifically to do in the past, and continues to do as a core part of their job, then I am a programmer.
But, again, that's not relevant to the situation being described. The situation being described is not someone offhandedly saying that I'm not presently employed as a programmer, or asking about why I'm no longer a programmer [by some definitions]. You, and many other people, are creating new situations and saying "well if someone said X after you did Y, then it's totally reasonable." That's not the situation being described. It's the straw man fallacy.
I am describing a specific situation in which someone listened to a talk about data structures, algorithms, big O time, etc (yes, within the context of interviewing) and saying "So when you WERE a recruiter at Google, ...".
The information on my website is entirely irrelevant.
Possibly I wouldn't characterize you as a recruiter or a programmer based on what you described.
I've been a development manager for many years and programming is an integral part of my role. But I'm a manager, not a "programmer", since I believe it's the dominant aspect of what I do.
So that choice of words could have been more influenced by a possible emphasis on the interview aspect of your role, rather than its programming aspect. I haven't seen the discussion so I can only speak from what I've read.
I've known many hiring managers who were not programmers and knew all of what you mentioned. Some of them were even program managers with a strong CS background - none of them programmers by any definition since they didn't program at all, ever.
Do you think it's reasonable to listen to a talk when someone is discusses, in technical details, big O, binary trees, graph algorithms, coding, system design, object oriented design, etc and walk away from that saying "recruiter"?
If I were arguing that every single time that I'm called something other than programmer that there is gender bias, then your point would be valid. But I'm not arguing that.
All I'm saying is that I haven't seen evidence in what I read that would strongly indicate gender bias in this instance. You are making the claim so you have the burden of proof. I'm just stating my skepticism regarding your presented evidence.
The best way for bias to be taken seriously by others is to only claim bias when the case for it is very clear. This helps combat people who say that "anything today is considered bias".
"I wrote a book about programming interviews" does not signal to me that you are, in fact, a programmer.
I am happy to believe Gayle is a programmer, but I wouldn't use her book as a credential to support that claim.
(And I just realized that I'm replying to Gayle. I didn't read your username before posting. oops. The "you" above wasn't meant to be directed at you personally.)
Elements of Programming Interviews: authors include an algorithms professor, a software engineer, and an engineer/CTO.
Programming Interviews Exposed: authors include software engineer, a CEO & VP Technology, and a radiologist. (Note that this book was written a long time ago. The radiologist probably was a programmer at the time.)
Ace the Programming Interview: software developer
Data Structures and Algorithms Made Easy: software developer
Out of 9 authors (including myself), 8 are/were software developers or something else very, very deep in technology. Possibly all 9.
Notably, zero are/were recruiters.
That ignores all the times when people who are given the same information -but about a man- but who don't make the assumption that he was a recruiter.
Computer Science has absolutely nothing to do with either coding or interviews, it's a subfield of mathematics.
In the US, a lot of curriculum in CS majors include coding, interview practices and more—and that's a good thing because there doesn't seem to be a lot of dedicated "software development" majors in existence.
I can think of a computer engineering curriculum that actually requires a half-semester course in interview practicing and cover letter writing. Similarly I can think of a major state university whose CS includes a semester project for a company / organization outside the university in teams of four. That same university has a required CS course where you have to maintain the code of previous students in the course, to give you a taste of that real world aspect. And those courses are taken in between or while you take your standard courses on algorithms, discrete math, etc.
Though true I know a professor of CS who ONLY works on a chalkboard, the vast majority don't and the vast majority of CS grads don't either.
Actually, I think it's a bad thing. The sooner Computer Science and Software Engineering become separate disciplines, the better.
> #1 in Books > Textbooks > Computer Science > Software Design & Engineering
I see so much "bro culture" in our field, and it feels inescapable. Every time I experience it, I literally cringe. I'm not even a party to being singled out; I can't imagine what it must be like to have this garbage directed at you.
The sad thing is, I used to be picked on and ostracized by these types of people. This was one of those things I assumed I was going to be getting away from back in high school by choosing computing. I thought "nerds" didn't do shit like this.
I just want to wake up in the decade this is no longer an issue. That must be nice.
Also, you probably do it too. That's okay - we all do. The trick that people haven't learned is not letting their automatic beliefs have overt influence on their actions.
#2 is the difference between acting like an asshole and being an asshole.
It still irks me when biases are so general and aimed at an entire set of people. I know I do the same internally for some populations or interest groups, but it still makes me mad when I see it done by others on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference, etc. I'm probably guilty at some level too sometimes... :/
these kinds of responses comes from a sense of threat to the current order, an order that tells the threatened that they are better than the disenfranchised.
For example, it wasn't but 100 years ago in the USA that groups like Irish, Germans, Italians, Chinese, etc. were looked down on as poor immigrants who were taking "real" American jobs. They eventually were accepted only to turn around and put down people who were Black, Latino, Women, etc.
Acceptance of African Americans and Women has improved a lot, and in some places Mexicans are more easily accepted than other places. However, there are still plenty of people that treat those groups poorly.
Eventually, all the current minorities, including women, will be accepted only to turn around and treat some other group like crap. Why? I assume it's because it's human nature and it's the cycle that seems to happen for things that are different. At some point we all get bullied and we all take turns bullying someone else.
It'd be nice to just skip over the ugliness, but that's not really how it works with people.
Also, let us not forget that getting treated poorly is not always a minority issue. Some people are just plain jerks and they treat everybody like crap. That's not an excuse, but no amount of positive change will get rid of jerks. They are in every industry and almost every company.
When it comes to the in-groups, it's not really bullying. IMO, it's more like a fitness-test, i.e. subjecting the new person who wants to be a member of an established group to some difficulty, so that the person is tempted to give up, and only those that really want to become members are accepted.
For example, I'm less than thrilled by the current campaign of "more women/kids/blacks/lations/people" in tech, because I feel that all these people just want to be programmers because of the money. I didn't want to become a programmer (I actually wanted not to become one), I just spent so much time in front of a computer that I learned a lot about it. I will never be able to regard someone as an "equal" (true geek) that just got in for the money. If you compare the current craze with 5/10 years ago (before the big salaries started), there is a huge difference in attitude towards the geeks, which makes the general public's motivations painfully obvious.
Another example: I'm not sure if that's a true depiction of Jews, but when Charlotte (from Sex and the City) decides she wants to convert to Judaism (to marry a Jew), she is turned away 3 times by the rabbi, before they let her start with the process.
Women are not a minority; not in the US nor in the vast majority of countries.
I think the point remains however that any group that faces a generation of discrimination/hazing/whatever you want to call it seems to find a way to revisit that same act on a later generation once they are in power.
Gender is the protected class, not women. This means that it's illegal to use gender as a factor in employment, barring very strict standards of when something is a legitimate job qualification. (For example, if you hired someone to stand in a women's locker room and hand out towels, you'd probably be able to legitimately discriminate on gender. You could not however use gender to only hire women for a teaching position at a women's college.)
Now, in practice, the court might be more lenient on gender discrimination against one gender or another (and it might change based on job). Just like the courts are likely harsher in penalties towards black people.
I think it's a legitimate practice in the field to look at whether someone develops actual code and if their code works in order to evaluate whether or not they are actually a programmer. This is because there are a lot of posers and incompetents in the field. Seeing actual code and/or projects the person has built cuts through a lot of Big Talk and claims.
In this particular case, the CEO has listed on her site several projects she developed herself to solve real world problems. This is solid evidence that she is in fact a programmer. Therefore, the random critic's claims are without merit.
I'm going through the job hunt now, and so many places seem determined to be as difficult as possible to deal with. One (I may have found it on HN) had a picture of the office bullpen, and every single person in the picture was a twenty-something male, mostly all white with one or two Asians, more than half wearing hipster goatees.
I wondered "why in the world would you show this in your job posting section? What image do you think it projects?"
I'm not a SJW but the in-groupishness projected by that image was a huge turn off for me. And I'm someone who mostly fit the stereotype in that picture (even down to the hipster goatee).
We haven't done outreach to any specific group (I'd guess because we aren't "looking for women" per se, we "looking for good developers and gender doesn't factor into it"); looking at the currently active developer ad, it makes no explicit assumptions about gender of applicant and makes no reference to the gender of the current team...
(Though there was that thing saying that "we are a strong team" is subconsciously excluding of women, and we should say "we are a caring team" if we want more women to apply, so there may be things like that that I am too much of a white male to notice? :S)
It's silly to say "but our ad doesn't say anything about gender" -- of course it doesn't.
And if no women are applying, there are probably other groups of developers whom you are totally missing out on as well.
Try the following thought experiment: imagine there is a qualified candidate that you want on your team, and they see your job posting for the first time. What are you putting in your posting make sure that this person applies, and what is in your interview process to make sure this person gets accepted and encouraged to come on board?
That said, the "asshole" in the article is a troll.
Or energy in Houston or the South?
(Not sure if I should put a spoiler alert or something.) The author of a popular series of books on preparing for technical interviews was upset that, after talking about code for an hour, people assume that she's a recruiter, rather than a programmer. I'll try not to make the mistake that the target of this post made by assuming too much about the content of that talk, but is it at all possible that the perspective of someone who writes books like that comes off as recruiterish?
This was my first thought as well. As soon as she identified herself, I immediately understood how someone could write her off as a recruiter, based entirely on her body of public works. There are many people in the world that will judge someone by the books they wrote and immediately have an image in their mind about the author. It would be hard to overcome this inclination that certain people have within the space of an hour and it doesn't help when someone is especially suspicious because of your gender (Obviously this is the not-ok part). I'm more apt to believe that Gayle Laakmann McDowell has a slightly skewed viewpoint of being taken as a recruiter more often than the average female engineer.
This is not to say that female engineers do not have legitimate concerns. I think its helpful to look at the specific facts of this situation to understand the frustration Gayle Laakmann McDowell experiences.
Personal anecdote, take it for what it's worth.
*TA = teaching assistant, older students hand-picked by professors to conduct help sessions for the current year's crop, as well as grade homeworks/exams. I.e. you need to do well in a class to qualify.
The point is that gender adds difficulty in establishing technical credibility.
A different female programmer might have trouble with a different aspect of this. For example, Chloe Alpert said how investor have trouble believing that she's the dev (https://twitter.com/chloealpert/status/509071535098052609) and how some other people were confused that she was the dev (https://twitter.com/chloealpert/status/509069378575695872).
She might have more trouble than other female devs because she's cofounded a business with a man. Does that mean that the whole gender doesn't matter? No.
In other words, my experience might be that people lump me in as a recruiter specifically. Someone else might be assumed to be the non-technical cofounder. Someone else might get assumed to be a marketer. Or a designer. Or whatever.
Point is - gender bias is real.
The real question is If a male and a female talked about coding interviews for an hour, would the audience ascribe to them the same title, I suspect the answer is probably "no".
Yes, please. While I agree with the sentiment of the editorialised title, I think the original title should be reflected here.
On the other hand, I'd probably think you were a bit of a dick if you tried to tell me what being an agreeable human being is.
Edit: This comment was...less than coherent. What I'm getting at is that I agree with you, and that I think the core of being "not an asshole" is understanding that other people are just like you in regard to their being far from perfect. The guy that just cut you off in traffic may have terrible hemorrhoids, be angry about something at work, or perhaps just heard that his daughter died. You never know what other people are going through.
I was going to go for a few anecdotal examples of people I would decidedly consider as counter-evidence to your claim: the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, ...
Then I realized that you're probably right. :(
It's the main reason why I can't really take it seriously.
Yes, I see sexism.
To refer to females who code as children while at the exact same time NOT doing that for males who code is sexist.