As someone else pointed out: "1) What is the nature of hackathons? Many are pitchathons."
I have also lost "hackathons" to projects that were objectively NOT technical (mocked-up images of an app, without a single line of code). It happens often, and it's always a bummer to lose, but often they might actually be solving a bigger issue than me or my team.
For the group of women (girls?) that won - as you pointed out - maybe they will continue doing hackathons (and maybe - despite your doubt - they even eventually progressing beyond the Wix stage) because they won an encouragement award at their first hackathon. It's like a consolation prize for mustering up the courage to present their product that was obviously not as technically advanced as some other products. That takes guts, a lot of people (men/women/other...) might just slink out the back door after the first few presentations.
So good for them, in that sense - they indeed are an inspiration for people just starting out.
It is magnificent to encourage newcomers to the field. We should also have level playing fields for folks to participate with everyone (and not stratify further than we already do). But it sucks when these sorts of objectives collide and end up alienating people. (and heck sports have awards for rookies for example!)
The other thing that's really gear-grinding about OP is that... we're judging our worth based on what happens in hackathons? I hope to $deity most people aren't doing that, because hackathons are super slanted POVs on the world.
Well, for rookies who outperform what's expected of rookies... rookies who perform at the same level as their more experienced peers.
You are damned if you do and damned if you don't. There is no satiating the thirst from the "tech media" for faux outrage driven clicks.
This is a woman in tech, but more specifically she is a techie in tech. She has been assimilated into the normality of the modern tech industry and is participating in a highly competitive, skill driven arena.
Make no mistake, any company that does not behave as the organisers of this hackathon here - not actively displaying an organised, certainly biased, effort to promote the "Women in Tech" narrative - are open to being squatted on from above from the "moral highground" occupied by the tech media.
This is what happens when you attack meritocracy in the name of making people feel good. It is what happens when you create an unrelenting narrative that continually assaults an industry over how many or few people with a penis or vagina they have in it. It is what happens when you've an industry surrounded by "journalists" who've never spent an actual day in it, ready to fire out articles shaming you for your lack of, or apparent abundance of, penises or vaginas in your company.
The author here is simply another bystander to the continued assault on the technology industry.
Most of us would agree that it's the latter. So the question is, what do we do about it? Whinging about how terrible it is that we are even talking about this isn't it - that's just wrapping bias in silence. Any good engineer can tell you that a problem doesn't go away just because you stop acknowledging it.
The author makes an excellent point... that "Thanks for showing up" awards aren't a solution, either. We love our craft because it's hard, because it measures us against hard reality rather than the soft vagaries of social politics. We cannot bring gender equality into software engineering by trying to turn it into social rather than technical victories.
But complaining about the "assault on the technology industry" in the form of pointing out that we have a sexism problem? That's not good engineering, bro.
What about option three: They've less of an interest in the area.
When these topics come up there seems to be this weird suspension of the fact that men and women, or girls and boys, are different in many ways. They've different interests, they're driven differently, they've different skills, etc.
They're not perfectly aligned bell curves across the board. We also don't need them to be. We don't need men and women to be identical save for what is between their legs in terms of their interests, or how they perform, or their desires, or whatever else.
We simply need to make the same opportunities available to everyone regardless of what is between their legs. If a man wants to become a nurse, he should have the opportunity to and he does. If a woman wants to become a programmer, she should have the same opportunity and graduate employment rates would show that they do.
Women dominate many professions. Men dominate many professions. As a society we don't need to have an equal number of penises and vaginas present in all professions.
Leave the opportunities open and let people develop their own interests.
This graph says it all, I think. Is it really conceivable that women were more interested in computing when it was all about hand-coding assembly for a modest amount of money, and less interested now that you can make >$100K/year doing Rails from home?
There's tons of evidence that women are excluded from our industry, at every level -- high school, university, and even the ones that graduate and go on to work in the industry drop out at a very high rate. Other scientific or mathematical fields do not have the same problem.
You will probably now try to bury me with various quibbles, because you can argue against any statistic. but maybe you could try ASKING A WOMAN.
Anecdotally, I know many women who have since found coding later in life. I've heard several times that they wandered into some science or computer club early on and had horrible experiences and left. They're coming into it now, mostly due to the high demand for engineers such that the industry is (reluctantly) hiring people who don't have the ideal background, and actually training them. So these women are finding out, for the first time, that they aren't bad at technical things. It was just that the field was so gendered, and they came from environments that were strongly biased.
What I'm convinced of is that a) more women and minorities in the industry would improve it a great deal in a variety of important ways b) Making the culture of the industry more open and welcoming to these groups is an important step we need to take in order to effect (a).
Finally, it really isn't appropriate or helpful to smear anyone who disagrees with you or even suggests an alternate explanation as a 'denier' and spew hate. This isn't climate change; nobody is disagreeing about the facts and trends. If you're so certain you're correct and uninterested in hearing disagreements, why even post? And it's very condescending to presuppose and pre-dismiss what someone you're having a discussion with will say in response to you. You're arguing in bad faith. If you want people to listen to you, you should tone down the vitriol and try to write with respect.
Can you point these out? Last study I saw, women entering industry tracks very closely with women graduating with CS degrees, which strongly implies that if there's a problem it's in women entering CS programs, not with industry.
The hackathon described in the post was not like that. It bent the meritocratic part, which breaks the right incentive to participate.
What we need more is removing prejudices and careless practices that push away females. This has everything to do with culture, speech, general environment, and nothing to do with preferring a PDF to code on a hackaton. As the poster say, don't lie. Not only to women; to anyone.
>You will probably now try to bury me with various quibbles, because you can argue against any statistic. but maybe you could try ASKING A WOMAN.
That's a heck of a lot of assumptions you're making about me, Neil. I can't understand how you came to the belief that this kind of gruff contributes to the conversation let alone to your point.
>Is it really conceivable that women were more interested in computing when it was all about hand-coding assembly for a modest amount of money, and less interested now that you can make >$100K/year doing Rails from home?
Is it really conceivable that women are abandoning well paid careers in business and other areas to become yoga instructors? Or life coaches? Or re-training in psychology? Or starting their own home businesses on etsy or similar?
There's seemingly more ways to make money than ever before. Just because sitting at home grinding out a rails app is an appealing way to make money to you, doesn't necessarily mean it is to others.
>There's tons of evidence that women are excluded from our industry, at every level -- high school, university, and even the ones that graduate and go on to work in the industry drop out at a very high rate. Other scientific or mathematical fields do not have the same problem.
How many of their male counterparts drop out of the tech industry? Or move into non-tech roles within it?
On a second point, how much more socially acceptable is it for a woman to change careers or to become stay-at-home mothers than it is for men?
I've read studies about self-actualization that have concluded that more than twice as many women achieve self-actualization than their male counterparts, so maybe it's a case of more women realising how lacking in substance tech work really is and getting out of it, than their male counterparts who simply struggle on with it?
And by the way, Neil, I have talked to women about this. My own partner is a very successful female in a competitive, scientific area. I've worked with many female engineers over the years also.
I've also seen first hand, and have actively supported, many female engineers leaving the industry to do something they find more fulfilling.
This is a complex topic and we're not going to agree on everything. Building me up, even internally, as some demonic misogynist who has no contact with women isn't going to do or contribute much though.
Yes. I know a number of people (some women, some not) who were excellent software engineers, sharp minds, good at teasing a part a puzzle who have left the field.
People balance quality of life together with compensation (and whether the opportunity is interesting), or everyone would be trying to become an investment banker.
It is certainly the case that if being a woman software engineer sucks more than being a man software engineer that calculus may result in clearly delineated differentials like the ones we see today.
Quantifying what "sucks" about being a woman software engineer is borderline impossible due to the level of subjectivity involved. Even when one does, I'd posit that there is a sizable overlap between what sucks according to women and sucks according to men. At some point in the discussion though, other potential causes have to be at least considered when talking about why there's so few women engineers. Unfortunately getting to that point of is much less attractive and doesn't drive page clicks.
I'm not familiar with workplace/STEM literature around gendered experiences, but people may already be doing the research. (Makes note to self to look into this, to see if anyone is...)
Now, that's not iron-clad explanation for the chart, but it's very much worthy of consideration as an explanation.
It's entirely possible that women were never that high a percentage of what we now classify as computer science.
In other words, maybe it's more a change in classification than anything else.
Figuring out the best heuristic function for A* to do path finding through your dataset? Probably computer science. Writing SQL queries and presenting the results as HTML or JSON? Probably a lot closer to "data processing technician".
Edit: looks like people are downvoting you because they disagree with you. I disagree too, but I think it's a valuable avenue to discuss.
And some of it was like IT people now, but generally less technical. It was more mechanical, not a coding type job.
It's pretty different from what we classify as computer science degrees now.
I've simply never seen a comment like this alongside another from the same writer that goes something like "Oh, I was wrong about that. Now I know."
So I wonder...is there anything that could be said to you that would make you say, "oh, I was wrong, now I know better"?
At a minimum for anything to be convincing it would have to show why there were less women who start studying computer science than men and that same thing can't be why there are more women who chooses to become nurses than there are men who choose to become nurses (since that something would then be either biological or societal in either case it wouldn't be an issue with our field). Depending on the specifics, I reserve the right to raise further objections.
If we weren't talking about something as hot-button a topic as sexism in tech, but someone was all "tiny invisible biting demons? I just don't know about this so-called germ theory...", wouldn't it be fair to ask, what's their background in medical research?
Medicine makes concrete, testable predictions that are used every day. Sociology isn't there yet. Sociology, to me, lies somewhere between theology and medicine on the credibility scale. I wouldn't expect an atheist to educate herself on the finer points of of the Trinity and the Holy Ghost before taking her opinion on modern American Christianity seriously, for example.
Yes. I don't know if it's the case, but it's really easy for me to conceive.
You cite one study on NPR that another commentor has already pointed out used a flawed methodology. ONE STUDY - and you tar your opponents as science deniers.
And then you have to ask, what makes the gender less interested in the topic?
A lot of the time people think this is just throwing gifts to people from certain demographic to compensate for their disadvantages, but it is a tactic to attract more people.
Some girls participate at certain event and get recognition and then you get other girls to say "oh! I could do that too!"
Word get out that a bunch of women/black/latin@ got into Recurse center after being granted sponsorships and you get more women/black/latin@ applying to more places like it around the world.
There is an implied assumption that there is a moral duty to help get more women in to CS. I have yet to hear a reason for this that does not reduce to "Just because". (e.g. the notion that in ideal, fair world, programming jobs would be split 50/50, which is basically an article of faith, opinion.)
Is there less interest because a woman or a person of color looks at the field and sees that no one else there looks like them?
Or, more to the point, the people in the field all look like the one group that has historically dominated everyone else?
Maybe that's discouraging. I'm guessing it is. I don't have the lived-in experience of it because I'm a white male, but I do like to keep my "I'm right and I know everything" attitudes in check when I talk to women and people of color, and ask them about their experiences. One minute of listening to people is worth a million speculative web forum comments.
This is a near-daily discussion topic for me. One of my best friends is a very successful doctor and financial expert who happens to be black. He has something of a personal mission to teach financial literacy to black teenagers, because they see so little of it growing up (and I grew up without it, too). He firmly believes that software and engineering are the best path to middle class success for smart kids of color, but he's always struggling on ways to encourage it.
(How would we falsify this?)
This affects the really poor: for example, if you're working three retail jobs just to stay afloat, you're not going to have any time to hone your skills or hobbies.
which by no means will ever get you a job in the tech industry. Nice hobby, though.
So people bought them for their kids.
Their male kids.
Fast forward 10 years and the comp sci demographics shift.
I've seen a lot of advertisements for the Commodore 64 and don't recall any gender bias. Here is an example of the ads I remember:
After begging my parents for months, I was given a Commodore 64 for Christmas in 1982 when I was 10 years old. My two sisters never had any interest in it despite my constant attempts to get them to use it with me.
Somehow I doubt anyone here is going to do a quantitative analysis of 80's advertising...
It's just a normal job that you get, no real stigma attached.
If you did just a bit of critical thinking about which genders dominate which professions and why, including historical trends, you'd arrive to either two conclusions.
1) One gender is naturally predisposed to being nurturing and subjugated and taken care of and caring, or 2) there have been cultural protectionist barriers set up to protect the most bountiful activities.
What did people say before women reached parity or near-parity in Law and Medicine? Were they biologically disinclined then too?
How is tech bountiful for men and why would men keep anyone out of it? My female friends all went to medical or law school or got a fancy post-graduate degree and used their prestigious bonafides to go straight into a high paying career. They make more money than me and anyone I know in tech.
The realty is that tech kinda sucks for everyone but a handful of personality types. If you're overly social, outgoing, not detail obsessed, not interested in puzzles, etc then you wont like it.
I think the gender argument is bunk. There's more division intra-gender than inter-gender. Instead we should focus on personality types, but frankly, I don't think society is mature enough for a rational discussion of this topic. Outrage and gender politics rules the social media roost and in the future people will look back at this time and think us all morons; and rightfully so.
I'm a mid-career SE, with lots of people on this forum making a lot more than I do, and I appear to be at the 97% percentile for annual income.
Stack that paper, dollar dollar bill y'all.
Bear in mind that there are studies in apes demonstrating preferences in toys that mirror what is widely assumed to be purely cultural influences in humans.
It's pretty easy to replicate, here's an example:
I bring this up because I also find it intriguing that, in the most recent Stack Overflow developer survey (2015), India indicates more female programmers, and Sweden less (in relation to the United States).
I say this not to show that a more feminist country makes gender differences in personality stronger, or is causally linked to less female programmers, but rather to bunk the strength of gender-biased cultural narrative.
I will leave these last comments, taken from a commenter on Slate Star Codex from a different essay:
I grew up in the Soviet Union in the 1970s, at the time of “peak communism”, before leaving for greener (literally) pastures (figuratively) much later. There was plenty of casual sexism, and women (and men) were expected to marry in their early 20s, if not before, then have children right away. Women had to be as cautious as in the West when walking alone at night, and cat calls, ass grabs and unwanted sexual advances were not uncommon. Girls played with dolls and boys played with Lego (an awful Russian version of it, not snapping together well, and pieces often breaking apart), as well as soldiers and trucks.
But one thing virtually did not exist, to the best of my recollection, though have no stats handy. No one thought that women are less capable at STEM. Ever since Lenin declared gender equality, among other equalities, back in 1917, women had just as much acceptance in engineering and academia as men. My middle school math teacher was a female (she was very good) so was my physics teacher (she sucked beyond belief, but then I often had lousy male teachers, as well). Our math club had roughly equal numbers of boys and girls. Yeah, I was a nerdy kid. Never got any grief because of that, though plenty because of my poor social skills. My less awkward math-loving friends had few issues. There were no “jocks” that I recall, though plenty of assholes and bullies, but the latter could be just as good at math and science as the bullied. Doing well in school was never a negative. Science was not considered the domain of eggheads, it was just one of the things people did for a living.
Women were as expected to go into Medicine, Engineering and Science as into any other occupations. A few examples. My mother designed ship engines for a living. My grandmother was responsible for air and water quality in an area with probably half a million population. My wife’s cousin got her PhD in under Kolmogorov himself, wrote several influential papers and taught math for decades, first in the Soviet Union, then in the US. My aunt was a computer programmer and is doing very well off, having retired by now. Yet she was considered the “stupid” sister by her parents, compared to my mom who was the “smart” one. In my very STEMish university department there were as many female students as male.
The child benefits were such that American women can only dream of. You get paid maternity leave a month or so before your due date, with your job held for you for six months or so, and held for you for up to three years, if I recall correctly. You automatically get a bit more money when you have children. Daycare/kindergarten was free, or almost free. There was no tenure. That is, you don’t get fired once you are hired, unless you do something criminal. What with being employed by the government and all. There were plenty of downsides to that, but competing for a permanent position was not one. Of course, there was as much politics as in any research institution or a university department. Promotions were few and far between, since almost no one ever left, except to retire, or feet first. Well, I’m stretching it a bit, there were occasional layoffs, just like everywhere else. But rarely any individual firings.
So, the social experiment a feminist can only dream of undertaking had been run for 70 years, with a break to fight a war or two. Or three, but who’s counting. Similar social “experiments” had run in most other countries of the former Eastern Bloc. A nearly perfect control. Of course, then it all came crashing down. But not quite all. The egalitarian attitudes toward STEM and women in STEM did not change, only the economic conditions.
So, given all this, what do you think the result of this experiment was? Feel free to guess or look it up, or just recall what you know. I’ll reply with what I remember, once/if you comment.
[after a reply]
In my university, despite there being about 50% or so female students, and overall more of them completing their computer degree than male, there were none in the top 5 of my graduating stream of 100 or so. Most of my classmates of both genders (there were not any other genders back then) in our high school for nerds, the same one that one Grigori Perelman went to, majored in Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Comp Sci from the top Russian schools. About half of the guys went on to get a postgraduate degree, and only one or two women.
Sure looks to me like they got shortchanged by an unfairly narrow Bell curve, though maybe there are more politically correct explanations. Maybe they cared more about their family than their career, or something.
When the times turned sour in the 1990s, nearly all of the girls left academia and did what they had to to get by, mostly marketing, accounting, real estate or web design. Some managed to leave the country before Yeltsin hit the fan. They did pretty well in engineering and programming, and I know exactly one who went on to do a postdoc, vs maybe a dozen or so guys, who ended up having a secure research position on Russia, or a tenured position in the US.
None of my classmates of any gender got anywhere close to the Nobel-level, or even became somewhat famous. Well, except for Perelman, who got as famous as a mathematician can get, but we did not intersect in either high-school or university, due to the difference first in age and later in talent.
In any case, my point is that there was a nearly perfect experiment performed, and most Western sociologists just ignore it.
I do believe there is a gender bias, but I don't at all believe it is even close to being the driving factor behind women's apparent lack of interest in CS/programming or in entering/remaining in the industry.
By late high school, the gap between men and women in math and programming is already as large as it will ever be. Yes, it’s true that only 20 – 23% of tech workers are women. But less than twenty percent of high school students who choose to the AP Computer Science test are women.
Nothing that happens between twelfth grade and death decreases the percent of women interested in computer science one whit.
I have no hard numbers on anything before high school, but from anecdotal evidence I know very very many young men who were programming BASIC on their dad’s old computer in elementary school, and only a tiny handful of young women who were doing the same.
I don’t want to get into a drawn out inborn-ability versus acculutration fight here. I want to say that I want to say that whether we attribute this to inborn ability or to acculturation, the entire gender gap has been determined in high school if not before. If anything, women actually gain a few percentage points as they enter Silicon Valley.
What the heck do high schoolers know about whether Silicon Valley culture is sexist or not? Even if you admit that all the online articles talking about this are being read by fourteen year olds in between Harry Potter and Twilight, these articles are a very new phenomenon and my stats are older than they are. Are you saying the is because of a high level of penetration of rumors about “toxic brogrammers” into the world of the average 11th grader?
The entire case for Silicon Valley misogyny driving women out of tech is a giant post hoc ergo propter hoc.
What’s worse, I have never heard any feminist give this case in anything like a principled way. The explanation is usually just something like of course men would use their privilege to guard a well-paying and socially prestigious field like programming from women, men have always guarded their privileges, they’ve never given anything up to women without a fight, etc.
My own field is medicine. More than half of medical students are female. In two years, more than half of doctors in the UK will be female, and the US is close behind.
Medicine is better-paying and more prestigious than programming. It’s also terrible. Medicine is full of extremely abrasive personalities. Medicine has long work hours. Medicine will laugh at you hysterically if you say you want to balance work and family life.
But women can’t get into medicine fast enough. Every so often medical journals and the popular news run scare stories about how there are so many women in medicine now that if they take off time to raise kids at their accustomed rates we’re suddenly going to find ourselves pretty much doctorless.
So any explanation of the low number of women in Silicon Valley has to equally well explain their comparatively high numbers in medicine.
Given all this, it’s really easy for me to see why it’s tempting to blame nerds. Look at these low-status people. It’s their fault. We already dislike them, now we have an even better reason to dislike them that nicely wraps up an otherwise embarassing mystery. They’re clearly repelling women with their rapey creepishness. It doesn’t hurt that occasional high profile stories of sexual harassment come out of Silicon Valley aren’t hard to find and bring viral.
(no one ever asks whether there are an equally high number of stories of sexual harassment in medicine – or law, or any other field – that no one had a reason to publicize. When I was in medical school, there was an extremely creepy incident of sexual harassment/borderline attempted rape involving a female medical student and male doctor at an outlying hospital where I worked. Nobody put it on the front page of Gawker, because the doctor involved wasn’t a nerd and no one feels any particular need to tar all doctors as sexist.)
But again, you really can’t blame this one on Silicon Valley nerds, unless they are breaking into high schools and harassing the women there. And possibly breaking into grade schools, demanding the young boys start tinkering with BASIC. Time for a better theory.
A look at percent female physicians by subspecialty is instructive. The specialty with the most women is pediatrics, followed by child psychiatry, followed by obstetrics, followed by – you get the picture. The specialties with the least women are the various surgeries – the ones where your patient is immobilized, anaesthetized, opened up, and turned into a not-quite-color-coded collection of tubes and wires to poke and prod at – the ones that bear more than a passing resemblance to engineering.
(surgeons are the jockiest jocks ever to jock, so you can’t blame us for this one)
It seems really obvious to me that women – in high schools and everywhere else – have a statistical predilection to like working with people (especially children) and to dislike working with abstract technical poking and prodding. This is a bias clearly inculcated well before SATs and AP exams, one that affects medics and programmers alike.
It’s a bias that probably has both cultural and biological origins. The cultural origins are far too varied to enumerate. Many people very justly bring up the issue of how our society genders toys, with parents getting very angry when girls play with stereotypically male toys and vice versa. The classic example is of course the talking Barbie who would famously say “Math is hard! Let’s go shopping!”
On the other hand, I also think people who neglect biological causes are doing the issue a disservice. Did you know that young monkeys express pretty much exactly the same gendered toy preferences as human children? Rhesus monkeys, vervet monkeys, pretty much whatever species of monkeys you try it on, the male monkeys enjoy wheeled toys more and the female monkeys plush toys more. The word reviewers use to describe the magnitude of the result is “overwhelming”. When intersex children are raised as other than their biological gender, their toy preference and behavior are consistently that associated with their biological gender and not the gender they are being raised as, even when they themselves are unaware their biological gender is different. This occurs even when parents reinforce them more for playing with their gender-being-raised-as toys. You can even successfully correlate the degree of this with the precise amount of androgen they get in the womb, and if you experimentally manipulate the amount of hormones monkeys receive in the womb, their gendered play will change accordingly. 2D:4D ratio, a level of how much testosterone is released during a crucial developmental period, accurately predicts scores both on a UK test of mathematical ability at age seven and the SATs in high school.
The end result of all this is probably our old friend gene-culture interaction, where certain small innate differences become ossified into social roles that then magnify the differences immensely. As a result, high school girls are only a fifth as likely to be interested in computer science as high school boys, and sure enough women are only a fifth as well represented in Silicon Valley as men.
All of this information is accessible for free to anyone who spends ten minutes doing a basic Google search. But instead we have to keep hearing how nerds are gross and disgusting and entitled and should feel constant shame for how they bully and harass the poor female programmers out of every industry they participate in. Penny blames nerds for not “holding men to account for the lack of representation of women in STEM areas” but SERIOUSLY WE DIDN’T DO IT.
(except insofar as we helped acculturate kids. But that’s hardly a uniquely male pasttime.)
(before you bring up that one paper that showed research leaders advantaged male over female researchers, keep in mind that first of all it explains only a small portion of the discrepancy, and second of all the female research leaders showed the bias even worse than the male ones. Yet Penny frames her question as “holding men to account”. This is that motte-and-bailey thing with patriarchy again.)
1. Tech is lowest on the totem pole in middle and high school. Nerds are bullied, ostracized, and generally considered uncool.
2. Girls in school are more susceptible to social pressure than boys.
I think 1) and 2) together reliably explain why there aren't many women in the tech industry. It's not the industry's bias, it's society's bias. So the correct steps (in my opinion) would be
1. Stop glorifying sports and start glorifying tech more. The math olympiad team at high schools should be lionized more than the football team.
2. There is no step 2)
This comic should be required reading: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1883#comic
The presence of trans people backs this up: MtFs are overrepresented in tech, and the ratio of MtFs to FtMs in tech is about the same as the ratio of cis men to cis women in tech (I am MtF myself, and it's a running "joke" in the trans community that trans girls are all programmers). If you have the tech skills and the drive to work in the industry, you'll do fine here regardless of whether you're male or female. It's just that if you spent your childhood and teenage years being perceived as a girl, then you're supremely unlikely to even be an applicant to a tech position. At that point, there's nothing the tech industry can do to change anything.
Also, one thing I've observed is that if you're a nerd, non-nerdy boys are more likely to say "whatever floats your boat", and non-nerdy girls are more likely to say "eww, gross!". Peer pressure is the worst kind of pressure.
It's not at all obvious that it exists: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/04/14....
More men may work in tech because on average men are more interested in the subject.
The key word in the preceding sentence is "may." "Bias" is complex and hard to prove and in the case of the tech industry there may be bias or there may not be. Even the phrase "tech industry" is odd. Does that include academic scientists? Where does tech end and other industries start? See also e.g. http://philip.greenspun.com/careers/women-in-science.
A lack of good candidates is a serious problem (this even more obvious racially than by gender - where are the black and latino engineers?). But the way women are treated relative to their male peers is a massive problem within software, as opposed to the broader STEM fields. Don't believe me? Sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with experienced female software engineers about it sometime. Ask them what sexism they've experienced at work, how it's hampered their careers and their job satisfaction.
Being an autodidact is a way to satisfy an interest quietly and to avoid pressure, in contrast to classes. So if outside pressure hinders participation, it should hinder it less among autodidacts than it does among others. Thus, (# female autodidact coders) / (# female coders) should be higher than (# of male autodidact coders) / (# male coders).
As an example, to learn more than broken Hindi I'll take a class because there is no social pressure against it. But if I want to learn about pickup artistry (which social pressure opposes), I'm going to do it on the internet. (Both examples chosen to be subjects best learned in person.)
Anyone have data on this?
But the way women are treated relative to their male peers is a massive problem within software, as opposed to the broader STEM fields.
This is weak evidence against female treatment being the cause of underrepresentation. Math-heavy STEM fields (physics, math, electrical engineering) also have very few women.
This would seem to be a third explanation for something you said had only two explanations.
I don't think you'd say that the first one doesn't exist, and when you say discrimination starts at childhood, that sounds a lot like the second.
One needs to be careful not to equivocate between the two, because they're different problems that have different causes and different solutions that need to be implemented by different people.
When you describe the two of them together, as a single possible cause, you seem to be making this mistake.
Where are the _____ engineers? As a rule, they're in the huge fucking pile of resumes in the garbage. But that answer is too simple and obvious, it makes the situation too clear. Instead, it has to be a big mystery about how it just magically happens that there isn't a black face in the office even though we are all, of course, very enlightened and not racist here on HN, and all of us are doing our very best, so sorry if you don't have enough experience for any job or are not a cultural fit anywhere.
Just a tip: the use of "begs the question" to which you refer is always intransitive. The transitive use, as by the poster you responded to, is distinct, and unambiguously a different use than the intransitive use. AFAICT, its inspired by the transitive use, which is an odd (from the point of view of the meanings of the individual words in modern English) translation of a Latin phrase into English, and -- unlike the intransitive use -- actually uses the individual words in something like their usual definitions. It also provides a convenient rationalization of the older intransitive use as a specialization of the transitive use where the question for which an answer is demanded is that of the support for the premise under discussion, so that the transitive use turns the intransitive use from an idiom that is detached from the meanings of the words in the language outside of the idiom to one connected to it in a clear way.
Accepting the transitive use, which is widely established and whose meaning is immediately clear to anyone who encounters it and which is completely unambiguously differentiated from the intransitive use, does nothing but make life better for everyone.
Opposing it isn't merely pedantry, its pedantry that ignores clear grammatical distinctions and seeks to find confusion where there is none to be found.
On the other side of this, according to the NMC only 10.69% of Nurses in 2008 were men (UK). I've personally never seen anyone highlight this as a diversity issue. This is just a guess but I'd say men in general aren't as interested in nursing as women, or just don't consider it when deciding what to do with their careers.
I think specific instances of sexism or discrimination should be stamped out, but I don't think we should be "helping" anyone to a specific career - I'd rather credit everyone with a little intelligence and assume if they want to be a nurse or work in tech, then they will strive to do so without the artificial leg-up.
Yes, this always comes up in these discussions, and as is always pointed out, you haven't heard of it because you aren't in that industry and you haven't done even a cursory google search of the topic.
Seriously, there are a ton of efforts to bring better diversity to the nursing field.
You claim a cultural bias in this industry, yet how true is that? Maybe Charleston, SC is just too small, but I've yet to see any real exclusionary practices in the area, nor have I heard any. I hear the brogrammer tropes, I hear the stories, and I see the numbers, so sure, there is some issue among the industry, but how much of this shift has come from everyday expectations. As a male, I certainly have preconceived notions of male nurses, not to say that I have a problem with male nurses personally, but that I realize society at large has its perception and so that is not a career I would readily have considered. The source of the problem is more than the binary you present, and almost certainly has larger factors at play than "brogrammer exclusionary practices" - no matter how comfortable it is to point at that one boogeyman, things in life are rarely so black and white. There are myriad causes and thus there will always be many changes to fix the problem.
Another is that society has a persistent and difficult cultural bias against women being technical. It seems that women are choosing not to go into this industry before they even have any contact with the industry.
Though the industry can have a role in improving the situation.
Only if you make the assumption that people make career choices that organically fit into equilibrium and as rational actors. Drawing a dichotomy seems naive.
Irrational behavior should show up as noise in the system, not the order-of-magnitude bias we're observing. That strongly suggests that the bias is the result of rational actors, not the irrationality of their behavior.
OTOH preferring a job that pays $100k to a job that pays $50k would take a lot of irrationality. I suspect that most women are not that irrational at all, so there must be something very unpleasant that prevents them from landing these jobs in a reasonably equal proportion with men.
Now, as a group behavior, discrimination is rational. If my side is strong, oppressing the other side keeps my side strong and makes it stronger, and then weakens the other side. The moral dilemmas can then be rationalized away with fancy words.
As an individual member of a group that practices discrimination, it's also rational. I can go along with my peers, accept the fancy words even though I realize they're probably nonsense, and benefit from the superior strength of my side. Or, I can call out the immorality and nonsense, and get shunned and locked out of the benefits of my position.
Once you take morality out of it, discrimination is rational behavior. Making up ridiculous lies to justify discrimination is rational behavior. It's one thing to not believe it, another thing to act against it.
Whoah, that's definitely not true. What you mean is "I can only think of two explanations"
Either way the gender bias shows up way earlier than CS starts, let alone the industry. So don't blame the industry, blame HS.
I got in before this really started. Sure, the PC was changing the world, but people tended to be a lot humbler about things. It was the domain of autodiadicts, not prizewinning blue-ribbon specialists.
Perhaps the sheer amount of money going into tech ( and leaving other fields of endeavor ) both raised the stakes and "attracted the wrong element."
I saw an interview - onstage - with the playwright Arthur Miller, and he thought the sheer quantity of money has destroyed the ecosystem around Broadway. It's become risk averse. I suspect the same applies to movies, music, maybe even books.
If it's gotten worse since the 1980s solely due to cultural bias, you can't explain that by a cultural bias remaining the same throughout that period, you have to assume that the cultural bias changed. Out of curiosity, what's the accepted explanation for that?
In terms of what? I have worked at many different small and mid-sized companies and they all had women employed as developers, designers, and other positions. I know this is just my own personal experience, but if this were really as big of an issue, I would think I would see much less women in these positions.
"One is that women simply aren't as good at programming as men are. The other is that there is a persistent and difficult cultural bias against women in this industry."
So there are only two explanations? In what world are there only two explanations? Especially with something as complicated as human interactions and culture.
"But complaining about the "assault on the technology industry" in the form of pointing out that we have a sexism problem? That's not good engineering, bro."
If the 'stats' and 'information' against the tech. industry are intentionally biased and used to mislead a reader into believing a specific viewpoint, then yes, it's an assault.
I think one of the reasons that there are less women in silicon valley is because the 70 hour+ per week lifestyle doesn't work very well when you want to have a family/children. It's the same for men with children. You will not get as many promotions (or raises) in a company if you have to leave early often for appointments or just want to spend time with your children. I've seen it too often in practice to not believe it.
It's also something that isn't even talked about in all of those studies about women and men salary comparisons. When you account for the women that leave to raise kids (which interrupts many careers during a time when you gain the most experience), salaries are almost the same for both men and women.
Option 3: Women see tech as a "risky" field compared to their other options, and choose not to go into it.
It's important to keep in mind that tech journalism, and journalism in general, has roughly the same level of diversity as tech. One wonders why they never seem to report on their own organizations.
edit: A few downvotes, but no responses. Probably my fault for forgetting to cite my claim: http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2011/mar/04/wome...
It has natural tendencies that asymptotically pushes it towards being a meritocracy, in the same way that markets have natural tendencies towards being rational and efficient. However the key to understanding them is understanding the ways in which they can never get to 100%.
I would love to see the correlation between people who state that the tech world is meritocracy and people who feel like they have gotten where they are purely on their own merit (the truth of it doesn't matter, just what they think). I would imagine that correlation is very, very high.
Calling the tech industry a meritocracy is an assumption.
There are plenty of well thought out viewpoints that disagree, its probably worth reading some.
Almost. This is what happens when things are as you say and you care what the newspapers say.
HN doesn't allow you to write that in bended blinking neon so I will have to settle for repeating it:
You can only be shamed by those you care about.
As it happens I spend some part of my thursdays teaching school kids to code - boys, girls and those in between. I haven't seen any press attack us for not doing enough to bring more girls in yet, but assuming it comes I don't intend to change anything.
I also think you're jumping to a vastly premature conclusion if you think fear of "tech media" is what inspired this award. I don't even buy Gina's implied assertion that it was solely because of the team's demographics. (She doesn't offer enough evidence to agree or disagree with her.)
The tech press is pretty much the most sycophantic press sector out there, in its relationship to the industry it is supposed to critically cover.
Dear tech media: I'm a programmer. I work in a small shop that serves a niche market. We employ more females than males. When I go to work, it's to do my job; to count references and check my pointer math, not to check what genitalia my coworkers, who half the time aren't even in the same office as me, are equipped with. STOP BEATING ME OVER THE HEAD WITH THIS SHIT.
Ask my former manager, who is a woman, whether she preferred to work with the male employees or the female ones. She'll tell you the office women were a constant headache and had to be constantly babied and supplicated to.
There was a time you could go on to tech websites and just read about tech. Who is profiting from the incessant beating of the misogyny drum? Not women techies who show up to work and do their damn jobs like the rest of us.
Do you know of any good tech news websites that actually cover tech?
As has been said in this thread multiple times, less women are in the field probably (and partially) because there is less interest. I believe a large part of that is how male-centric tech is portrayed while growing up. But once I displayed an interest in high school opportunities were thrown at me from left and right, to the point that I felt bad for guys who didn't get similar opportunities.
As expected, as a techie in college I was surrounded by mostly guys, which was fine 99% percent of the time. There were those special few who saw themselves superior and made sexist remarks. Guys who wanted to help with homework because they didn't think the female brain could figure it out. You just prove them wrong and move on.
There is a gender issue, but it is not all one sided. Talking to the ladies who let the gentlemen do their hw for them (and the swath of everything else)
And the project in question that didn't deserve the award, in the author's opinion: http://aekblaw.wix.com/asteroidascent
they also have a sample curricula http://media.wix.com/ugd/57f674_99d136685bfe400f80022bc3652e...
and a code repo https://github.com/spaceappsnyc/asteroidascent
"an international mass collaboration focused on space exploration that takes place over 48-hours in cities around the world"
a Wix site and a sample curriculum certainly doesn't sound like an unfair entry here.
The hackathon you link to is from 2013, the article is from 2 days ago and that repo you link had its first commit 4 days ago.
Perhaps her experience is based off what was presented 2 years ago at the actual hackathon and not what they've produced in the subsequent time?
But let's not take the GamerGate approach that diversity is therefore just a conspiracy of political correctness.
It doesn't mean that diversity is a bad idea, it's just that it's harder than giving people BS awards.
If you're committed to diversity, it means you are committing to undoing disadvantages that other people have been enduring their whole life. In other words: training, in a respectful and supportive environment.
The good news for techies is that it takes relatively little time to train a talented and intelligent person from zero to productive. We're used to smart 16-year-olds sometimes coding circles around industry veterans. Surely we can do the same for other kinds of people in their 20s and 30s.
It's even more basic than that - What is hacking? Take a look at the MIT Gallery of Hacks for one perspective: http://hacks.mit.edu/
To me it means building something awesome, and it sounds entirely possible this team did that without writing a line of code.
Serious question. I have never seen it.
Maybe not a specific person or event, but would the constant demand for "diversity reports" from tech companies from the "tech media" not be an example of this? And the subsequent shaming by the same media of these same companies for having too many penises in the office, or too few vaginas?
I apologise for the vulgarity of the above, but that's what it is when it comes down to it.
I realize it's not exactly what you asked for, but it was a clear case of "guilty until proven innocent."
I've experienced this personally.
She told me that 4 out of 5 that she went to were charging exorbitant amounts and teaching things like how to configure a pre-hosted Wordpress install and maybe basic HTML+CSS, and calling it programming.
She was pretty pissed about the whole ordeal, I remember her saying something like: When you compare the content of some 'women only' events in tech to the non-specific counterparts, it's condescending and borderline exploitative (ie, charging for pretty limited services)
Kind of a raw deal, especially for a beginner, I imagine.
If, on the other hand, you provided the computers, who supplied them? A local library, a school, a private company, yourself? I don't need a specific name, just a rough category.
This isn't one of those situations. This is giving the same credibility to people who are not encumbered as people who put the time in and understood the rules of the situation. This is giving a "Most Effort" prize to someone entering a vegetarian salad at a BBQ competition. It diminishes the credibility of the hackathon, cheapens the sense of accomplishment for participants when they finally win, and diminishes the value of experience in our industry which is a huge problem.
Especially her line about "Now I’m part of the irrelevant, established order of brogrammers."
I worked my ass off. Instead of going out to party, I studied. Even after graduating and beginning a job, I still studied every night.
Because tech is hard and I wanted to be more than just a programmer,I want to be a competent professional Software Engineer. I still study a few hours a day. I watch new lectures on youtube, I occasionally follow people like John Carmack on twitter, and I experiment with new coding techniques or styles.
I do not understand why working hard to gain skills is not "inspirational", or makes me a "brogrammer".
And I too have been told I'm not "inspirational" before. It makes me wonder if its some kind of code word.
I honestly am beginning to resent the politics involved.
And thank fuck someone touched on those "Pay us $30,000 and become a 1337 h4x0r camps. I don't know if we're in a bubble, but if it were to burst, there's gonna be some surprised folks getting culled. If you attended one of camps, you better not stop clawing your way to the top. You better keep clawing util your fingers are bloody, nail-less nubs. You attended a Ruby camp? That's sweet, but you're applying to a Java shop, and you cannot "fake it till you make it" with your cargo-cult practices. You can't even begin to describe what an interface is, but hey, that $70k/year job is calling your name, isn't it?
Hell, maybe I'm just bitter and jaded at the ripe old age of 21 after doing this professionally for 4 years, or that I've been attending the prestigious LMGTFY University since I was about 9. Or maybe I'm a little brain damaged after my copy of Sedgewick dropped of the bookshelf and onto my head. Maybe those early, informative years spent cutting my teeth on assembly have done some irreparable damaged to my psyche. Stop pandering, lend a hand, lend encouragement to the folks who need it. Everyone had helped along but way, and I spend way too much time tutoring folks, but stop pushing folks into the industry who are chasing the almighty dollar or just aren't interested. Help them get their feet wet, but if they don't like it, don't force them off the diving board. I'm gonna be maintaining their cruft long after they're gone.
The second half of the piece just didn't seem that compelling, though. What if the pdfs were inspirational? Maybe they were about saving baby seals or something. And novice guys get passes on all sorts of stuff too. So once some girls got a prize that seems fake to someone who worked hard. Also, coding schools promise to make people ninja rockstars in six weeks, because they want to sell spots and people want to believe it.
Maybe the piece is upvoted because people resonate with that feeling of being mad that someone "undeserving" got a prize. I don't see that as a useful feeling to cultivate.
Different people may have different reasons for going to hackathons. For some, it may be to practise their skills at solving more technical problems and for others it may be simply to validate an idea, for which a wix side and a PDF are perfectly reasonable MVPs.
It's a great thing idea to set aside categories to encourage participation for novice / beginners to hackathons. We all have to start somewhere, perhaps the author forgot that she herself was in a similar situation just a few months ago.
Also: if what they wrote was right, what does it matter what their gender is? Right is right, wrong is wrong.
This depends greatly on who the commentator is. Meredith's recent piece touched on this - https://medium.com/@maradydd/when-nerds-collide-31895b01e68c
To some, you do not get to have a voice unless you comply with certain identity requirements. How right or wrong you are is irrelevant unless you have the identity that says you get to speak.
To others, such as us, this is madness and truth is no respecter of identities.
So in this case our POV is absolutely right. (Feelings do matter when you deal with humans, but that is also the only area in which they do).
Which isn't likely to happen any time soon, given how many of them work in the tech press.
There seems to be a strand of thought which claims that men have nothing to say on these issues. Pointing out that the author is a woman may be an attempt to head off such objections.
I think the first part of your essay is inspirational. I liked and related to your experience learning to code. I'm sure many others on HackerNews would agree.
The second part was the opposite though. I had to read it a few times to fully grok what you were actually mad about:
1) the "inspiration award" winning team's built something without writing code.
2) the judges "lied" to these women that they were/could-be coders.
And it really seemed contradictory for you to say, "a real hacker is someone who tries to code all night, and regardless of how shitty it looks, stands up there and says proudly, “Yeah, I made this. It didn’t work out very well, but I learned a lot." Then to turn around and bash their submission for not meeting your own standard of hacking.
Why? Because they aren't "real" programmers? Because you doubt they will ever be "real" programmers? Because the judges awarded them for being women who tried? Because you felt slighted?
You come off as self-interested, snobby, elitist, and bitter. As a woman and engineer, what kind of role-model are you projecting for your community?
I hope the promise of more women in engineering is to change the dominant "brogramming culture" to be less homogenous and more inclusive of alternative people, ideas, and processes.
It's about fairness towards the other participants of the hackatons.
Otherwise ,if hackatons were about ideas, most people wouldn't bother coding.
This article is like a high schooler getting jealous of a kindergardener for getting a gold star on their homework.
When I was in high school, I was on the soccer team. We went to a tournament where we were by far the smallest school. We had our asses handed to us.
At the ending ceremony, for the first time ever, they handed out a fair play award. To us. Did we think we'd won? No, of course not. It's just a token of appreciation, a thanks for attending.
I don't see why this kind of thing is so bad. You want to encourage people to show up to your event, so you make up a reason to thank them.
Is this a coastal thing?
Anyone else in the Detroit area agree or disagree with my assessment?
On the other hand, there is something to be said for those people actually hacking. They have experience and knowledge they don't need to gain all at once right there to make something cool. I went in to that college I mentioned with like 6-7 years of programming under my belt. Projects and clients and etc. These people barely knew that there was a command line in Windows, let alone how pointers or c strings worked. That happened to everyone, but there were a few 'hackers' like me who knew a lot coming in. All of us were guys. There were no girl 'hackers' and I don't presume to know exact reasons why but their actions basically had to do with what those women who could have been one of the 'hackers'. The judges were trying to combat, or at least show they combat that horrible situation. I hated it when girls would say they couldn't do CS/IT stuff because it was too hard for them or something. Like if it was magic or whatever. Since, I've realized its not true
Many first-timers will walk into a hackathon with just their laptop, and get stuck in the trap of setting up their environment over the whole weekend. They'll spend hours trying to download an IDE and interpreter/compiler and libraries over a poor or nonexistent internet connection. For these people, "build some static web pages" is one of the easiest ways to get them to the point where they have something they can comfortably demo in front of their peers -- and so what if it doesn't really work; they had fun and can come back next time.
If you build a thing that really works, fine. But a lot of people also walk into hackathons with pre-formed teams and 80% completed projects (idea, mocks and artwork already done; IDEs already set up; maybe even hardware already wired up) and having an emphasis on "real working code" for a time-constrained event only encourages this sort of "cheating".
In short, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with distinguishing between levels of technical mastery, and honoring more highly the higher levels of technical mastery. We’ll never get anywhere as a civilization if we let the mundanes think that your cousin Brian, who knows how to install antivirus software, is equivalent to Vint Cerf and Don Knuth. But that doesn’t mean we can’t honestly recognize and encourage people’s progress, even before they reach world-class status.
And, as kaylarose points out, it’s totally legit to reward people for making progress on important problems, even if they aren’t hard problems.
I mean this is how life works. Women in this context are seen as newcomers and by nature, they are more fragile. It's only natural that men try to promote women in the tech industry, since they are a scarcity.
It would be the same thing if the team at the hackathon was composed by 5 13-year olds building a simple 3D-printer. They are 13-year-olds, they are out-of-context and require special attention.
That's something that is bound to change, especially given the publicity women-related posts seem to get. More and more women are going to start programming. Then, this is probably going to change.
Generally speaking, I work (and communicate) better with women than men. Women seem to be much more flexible, easier to communicate.
I understand the point the author is making, but again, I think it's not a big deal. It's not like Google hired 4 women instead of 4 men as a developers because they were females.
Gina's concerns are extremely valid. Perhaps we've reached a point where gender shouldn't entirely trump merit. Perhaps a mixed-gender team (like the one she was on) with a more technical project should have been considered. Perhaps we're starting to piss off our hard-working women by promoting superficial yet PR-worthy success stories like the winners of that hackathon.
We just need to find a balance. I'm confident that for as long as we stay open to having these discussions, listen to the people we intend to effect, and make future decisions accordingly, we'll reach true gender equality sooner.
There's competition for that like Kaggle which doesn't dress it as hackathon imo. It's hey it's a competition, here's the usually term and conditions and you might win some money and it'll be good for resume. Hackathon seems like a nicer word for something else, like death tax or climate change (instead of global warming).
With hackathon I'm not sure about that, it have become some sleezy thing, there are a few exception like projects that help a certain causes or open source. OpenBSD had a hackaton and replaces Nginx with the hackton server. It was a funny article where they were drunk and committed to the tree without testing it throughly. Unfortunately in her case the causes was just political bs.
I do agree we shouldn't lie to people how easy it is. But we should mention that it's a skill and like all skill it takes time and deliberate exercise to be good.
I love the post. It seems like a dairy of growth as a person and gaining humility. I think she's a bit harsh on the women in term of not being programmer and then define hacker. I'm guessing her definition of hacker and programmer are the same? In general, being positive would be better but it does highlight and emphasize on not lying about how easy it is to code.
Related joke: http://9gag.com/gag/4614736/if-an-author-of-a-computer-book-...
Pick a project that takes longer than a weekend and do it.
The pressure doesn't come from within the industry, nor is it aimed at adults who have already expressed an interest. It comes from society as a whole, and it's aimed at children.
At first, it comes from parents and teachers. Later on, it comes from their peers. By the time a girl graduates high school and starts figuring out what she wants in life, she's already biased against tech. Attempts at recruitment aren't going to significantly affect the gender ratio if they're aimed at college students or college graduates. It's already too late. Politically-biased hackathons and hiring policies will never have any real effect, except maybe to breed resentment on every side of the issue.
Hey, I'm going to share some personal experience. I'm MtF transgender, and I began my transition at 28. It's pretty well known, at least in the trans community, that MtFs are overrepresented in tech, and that overrepresentation increases proportionally with the age of transition (though the age thing is becoming less relevant as the average age of transitioning is dropping, and the sharp contrast between "older transitioners" and "younger transitioners" is starting to blur). On the other hand, the ratio of MtFs to FtMs in the tech industry is about the same as the ratio of cis men to cis women (and possibly even more dramatic).
The only possible answer is that people are encouraged/discouraged from tech during childhood, well before transition. It's also accelerated by how the tech community tends to be open and accepting of people who don't fit in socially. Most trans people -- MtF and FtM -- tend to associate with groups of misfits and outcasts even well before transition. For MtFs, that includes tech geeks, and for FtMs, that includes various fandoms. Compare the MtF dominance on reddit vs. the FtM dominance on tumblr: reddit was aimed at techies, and tumblr was aimed at fandoms.
I have been programming for over 25 years. I have never and would never go to a hackathon. I program because I want to. I program because I'm paid to. I don't program because I want a room full of strangers to stare at me.
Turning programming into the type of popularity contest they had at the high school prom I never went to sounds like a nightmare.
It's also a rather quirky dramatization of what it means to be a programmer, but amusing to read either way.
A lot of us went there.
However, I really liked your line "Pass the mountain dew, brah. Git push -f, brah.", I might steal that.
I trained in martial arts for years and competed in tournaments. After a while, I got bored of tournaments. I kept training, because I liked martial arts. I wasn't in it for the tournaments, and not going to the tournaments didn't make me any less of a martial artist.
I always found it strange that there were always a few students who mostly only showed up for the tournaments. They would come to maybe one class every other week, but if there was a tournament, they were there. Mostly, they didn't do well (of course, because they didn't train in even the things that were important to tournaments), but if all they wanted was to be there in the tournament atmosphere and be able to say they competed, then that would have been fine. But that was not the case. They also complained that they didn't win.
If their goal was to win martial arts tournaments, then they were doing it wrong. They should have been practicing forms routines in front of mirrors, to the detriment of learning wrist-locking and take-down techniques.
Much, much more common were the students who did show up to class every day (even though they only had two classes a week) but only ever phoned it in. They were certainly punching the card, but they weren't particularly talented. Yes, most of the time they'd win because they were the best of the worst, they were in a division of other card-punchers. But sometimes they'd win against much more dedicated students, people who put serious training in, people who exerted a lot of effort.
And before I understood what tournaments were about, it upset me. Tournaments are just a reinforcement structure for an industry of selling tournaments. The market for tournaments is mediocre students. Hell, the market for martial arts schools is mediocre students. It's all a self-feeding system. It makes money for the ring masters by providing a fantasy of achievement to the customer. If it were about skill, they'd lose their monetization base.
My point is, understand what your goals are, and do those things that further your goals. You want to be a martial artist, you get in the dojo and you train harder than everyone else. You want to compete in tournaments, just show up to the tournaments. You want to win tournaments, get in the dojo and you skip the pushups and skip the self-defense techniques and focus only on flexibility and forms.
If all you want is to be a programmer, then just program. If you want to win hackathons, then focus on learning the latest and greatest JS frameworks for rapid app development. Not for building big, scalable applications. Not for robust security. Not for elegant code. Just for meeting the goals.
The problem is that these things--hackathons, martial arts tournaments, Olympic gymnastics, junior-varsity-anything--they're all just different types of beauty pageants. They're inconsequential to anything that is not in their immediate sphere of influence, and that sphere is tiny. Gina's complaint is not caused by the realization that hackathons are bullshit, it's caused by her being exposed to the hackathon. It's caused by her conflating being a programmer with competing in hackathons.
Which I ultimately think is a pretty rosy picture. It means that, by avoiding the hackathon, not only will she not know about the bullshit that goes on there, but she will also have more time to do the thing that really makes her happy: programming.
Look, I'm basically a reasonable person. I'm not looking to be offended at every turn or by every possible 'microaggression' (a concept I personally dislike, btw). I personally haven't experienced many of the issues that other women have. That doesn't mean those issues don't exist in the macro, simply because I haven't experienced them in the micro. Nor does it mean that despite one's 'objective/rational' view, that there aren't underlying subconscious assumptions/biases at work in some situations.
Small example. I'll be attending a new coding school in June, developed by the Nerdery in Minneapolis, called Prime Digital Academy. The guys (and they're all guys) running/developing curriculum/teaching seem like genuinely nice people who are putting a particular emphasis on diversity (women, older career changers, etc.) In fact, the oldest person accepted so far is 60!
Now, take a look a some of the recent images posted on their @goprimeacademy twitter account. Notice the seating. You're wanting to be accommodating to, among others, older people (not to mention potential disabled people), so you put them in beanbags and on hard (or maybe foam) cubes? Perhaps, despite good intentions, they're making unconscious assumptions about the people that have to sit on them.
I don't speak for all women, nor do I think that all women have some universally shared experience. However, I do think that it's very possible (if not extremely likely) that despite one's best intentions, preconceived notions/biases (including the idea that you're an 'objective' person) can preclude you from seeing other people have had different experiences than you, or came to different conclusions.
Those notions/biases don't make you a bad person (we all have them, of course), but if you're unwilling to examine them honestly at some point, then it seems reasonable to conclude that you're probably speaking/acting in bad faith. If a lot of (women, POC, or yes, even men, in the case of nursing) are telling an existing environment that they're unwelcoming/unfriendly in some way, then perhaps the most 'reasonable' or 'objective' conclusion is that there's a problem.
I think it's safe to say they sprung up in response to a market need--they didn't just come out of nowhere, for no point, and suddenly gain a lot of traction (because nothing does)--so how well do they work overall?
I, unlike you, am not interested in dismissing them all, because I have seen lots of times how young white dudes get to run the show, and end up dismissing everyone who doesn't look like them, regardless of so-called merit.
So I wonder...how much was this one an isolated "done wrong" event?
The politics of shaming and diversity guidelines are not market factors. This is like saying that the market wants us to have brainless middle managers. These things are all market inefficiencies that we should strive to eliminate or minimize.
I can't imagine tech pioneers from the 80s and 90s being under scrutiny like groups today are. Would we have Linux if Linus worried that his largely white male contributors weren't diverse enough? Would we have Apple is Jobs felt like he needed to "white knight" the women at his company?
Of course they are! Just like the politics of discrimination and dehumanization were market factors in previous eras. To pretend otherwise is to take a very narrow view of the market that ignores the full range of human interactions. Indeed, trends in industries such as fashion, music, film, and gaming are almost entirely driven by what ideas are popular at a given time and not by some objective utility function of the product.
If the market didn't want us to have "brainless middle managers," as you'd apparently characterize a wide swath of our colleagues, then those people would already have been efficiency'd out.
Just like, if people who don't look like you weren't lining up to be involved in hackathons and groups that consist of people who don't look like you, those events wouldn't exist.
People pay for it, whether you like it or approve of it or not. Behold, the market works!
If free market theory claimed that bad employees can't exist, that would be a pretty strong blow against free market theory ;-)
I don't know about you, but I'm not at all interested in how the intended audience feels. I'm strongly interested in how their behaviors change with these programs.
Programs that make people feel good but don't change behavior (i.e., don't get more women into tech) are not of value.
My mother and grandmother were both software engineers at IBM, at a time where the male dominated tech culture was MUCH worse than it is today, and they both did really well. My boss, a woman, is arguably the best software engineer at our company.
Women don't need handholding. They need incentive. They need to be exposed to tech culture. Lowering the bar for women and putting them on a pedestal for showing up does a great injustice to women like my mother and grandmother who, despite working in a culture which heavily discriminated against women, became kick-ass engineers.
This is positively the way to go.
Please, please for the love of root do not use rhetoric like this. It's hollow posturing that offers nothing beyond scolding someone for the sin of not agreeing with you.
Being insulting is not the same as being wrong. Being distasteful is not the same as being wrong. Only one thing is the same as being wrong, and that's being wrong. I know this is an insulting, disrespectful, and distasteful thing to say... but being offended does not make you right.
So I have a question for you: why did you write the first line of your comment?
Disappointed, yeah, surprised, no.