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Here's my practical problem with this:

- We're missing out on 50% of the people who could be good engineers. Programming is a really effective tool for improving our world, so any waste of talent is a Bad Thing.

- Whatever the moral arguments, accepting go-go dancers at events sucks as a way to attract women into our world.

Is shaming conference organizers the most important change we can make? Hell no, but it's low-hanging fruit. It gives us a zero-effort way to advertise that we as a community want more women here. If we can't even manage this, god knows how we'll make any real changes.

It's pretty depressing to read this thread, I thought there was a widespread consensus that the lack of women in computing was a problem. I'd be interested to know if any of the commenters defending the conference agree or disagree that it's important to get more women into our field?




I'd add a third point:

- It makes male programmers look socially inept, weak, and sophomoric. I don't like the perception or suggestion that I'll appreciate bought eye-candy at a technology conference.

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No it doesn't, and anyone who would draw a conclusion about an entire profession from the actions of a handful (positive or negative) can, in my opinion, go fuck off.

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> I'd be interested to know if any of the commenters defending the conference agree or disagree that it's important to get more women into our field?

I think it's important to get intellegent people into the field, regardless of gender. However, it's foolish to judge a conference in a far-off land by our system of morals.

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> However, it's foolish to judge a conference in a far-off land by our system of morals.

I tried to re-frame this as a practical problem rather than a moral one, since cultural relativism is a rabbit-hole this thread could disappear into for decades.

Do you believe accepting go-go dancers at events is likely to discourage Taiwanese women from wanting to get involved? That's the basis of my disapproval, cause and effect.

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> However, it's foolish to judge a conference in a far-off land by our system of morals.

I strongly disagree.

The country where I live (Canada) is the fourth in my life (after Portugal, Angola and Brazil). I also visited more than a dozen other.

The system of morals that people embrace in Canada is one of the main reasons I choosed to live here. And I believe that I have enough multicultural experience to say that no, it isn't foolish.

Same cultures are better than others. How do you know? Because there is an absolute in morals: don't do to others what you wouldn't want they did to you. You can derive a lot of judgements from there.

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Props to you for getting around and seeing that much of the world as a person living there. It sure makes your argument carry a lot more weight.

Where are you in Canada ? (West, East, Middle ?) Have you gotten used to the winters yet ?

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Also, from a personal perspective, it makes the assumption that all the male coders in the room are straight, which is in some ways an even more insidious assumption.

You can look at the room and say "okay, sure, there are no women at this event". You can't do that with sexuality -- but people do anyway.

(I feel I should note that this unfortunate, embarrassing incident aside, Yahoo is an incredibly, almost ridiculously gay-friendly place to work)

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There used to be more women in the field apparently. Coolest compiler researcher ever is Fran Allen who worked at IBM. Her interview in Coders At Work is great.

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> We're missing out on 50% of the people who could be good engineers.

Much as many of us would like to believe it, where is the evidence for this statement?

Decreeing a politically-correct gospel and punishing heretics for denying it doesn't make it true.

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The most plausible explanation for the imbalance is that women don't lack the innate ability, they're discouraged from developing it. Why do I say that?

- Some professions requiring comparable skills (eg actuaries, accounting) contain many more women.

- There's no known mechanism or evidence to explain why women might be innately bad at programming, but there's lots of well-documented mechanisms by which women could be discouraged from joining the community.

I'd be happy to learn from evidence that contradicts this argument, but in the absence of that, the simplest explanation is that we're wasting the potential of thousands of proto-programmers.

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