I know you probably think you're being a skeptical and intelligent speaker of uncomfortable truths. But you're a lot more like a climate change denier. You're going with your gut and not the facts.
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.
It's a very complicated issue. You've provided a graph which describes a trend, a Gladwell-esque 'just so' story (yes that's a pejorative) and an anecdote by way of explanation. Actually interpreting the data and understanding why people do what they do on a large scale isn't a solved problem. We aren't Hari Seldon. Social science is called soft science for a reason. People are much, much more complicated than climate. And climate is still pretty complicated. I believe there's a huge gender problem in tech but if you want specifics? If you want to know why women aren't in this field, well you'd have to ask every woman. If you want to generalize all women and ask why most of them don't, the answer, if it even exists, is unbelievably complex with undoubtedly many factors. I don't think there's much evidence that discrimination and a gendered culture is the only reason or even the primary reason for the discrepancy, though I personally believe it plays a very significant role. But I'm open to having my mind changed. What would actual evidence even be?
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.
> 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.
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.
Can we have an environment more welcoming to girls/women and still keep it meritocratic? I think we can. This is what many companies do.
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.
>I know you probably think you're being a skeptical and intelligent speaker of uncomfortable truths. But you're a lot more like a climate change denier. You're going with your gut and not the facts.
>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.
> 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?
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.
While we're continuing with the superfluous anecdotal evidence, I also know of software engineers, some of them women, who are totally happy with their jobs/workplace, work their asses off, and see real tangible results of that hard work, whether it be from happy users of a shipped product or salary increases.
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.
Of course that isn't true, being able to quantify people's experiences. Sociologists do this sort of thing all the time; there's a pretty well-established body of literature and practice and describes how you can go into the field, ask people questions (with interviews, focus groups, surveys, etc), and develop a general understanding of the field.
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...)
That NPR story has been discussed previously on HN. A comment there led me to look into the study used for that chart, and it turned out that "data processing" and "data processing technician" were counted as computer science fields back in that peak era for women. As those fields faded, so did the number of women.
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.
The flip side to that is that "Computer Science" traditionally wasn't about programming either, but closer to applied mathematics. It wouldn't surprise me in the least bit if a data processing technician's role back then was a lot closer to what a modern web developer does.
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.
Whenever someone says something like this, I immediately assume that they're a closed-minded individual who's ready to quibble with or dismiss anything that runs counter to their closed-off view of the world.
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"?
Normally I would say a published study but I have seen so many studies that had a horrible methodology, where the data was twisted to show something that it didn't (like this NPR study or the famous 1/4 of every women is raped at university) or where the authors plain went ahead and lied.
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.
Hey, downvoters, what exactly is contentious about asking this guy--and I have no idea who he is except that he's widely dismissive of published science--about his background or training?
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?
>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.
> 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?
Yes. I don't know if it's the case, but it's really easy for me to conceive.
I don't know anything about the hackathon Gina is referring to. But I think we've all seen the same thing - a faux commitment to diversity by just giving the most brown, female, or otherwise disadvantaged person in the room an award for trying.
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.
THE NEED TO WIN
When an archer is shooting for nothing
He has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind
Or sees two targets—
He is out of his mind!
His skill has not changed. But the prize
Divides him. He cares.
He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting—
And the need to win
Drains him of power.
BitKeeper not being available anymore was the impetus for starting Git and Mercurial (as replacements for BK), but many of the concepts in Git and Hg come from Monotone, most importantly the use of merkle trees (according to /u/ggherdov Matt Mackall recently mentioned this explicitly on IRC). Linus also mentioned Monotone by name as "the most viable alternative" before starting/publishing git and as pgeorgi noted contributed to the same.
We're making mobile devices do things they aren't supposed to. We need your help.
People from many different backgrounds will be considered, because most of these things have never been done before anyway. What we're doing combines Selenium/Appium testing, cloud engineering, networking, virtual machines, LXC containers, Android, iOS, python scripting, you name it. If you have a couple of those things under your belt, and you're smart and not afraid of doing hard detective work sometimes, I encourage you to apply. Previous work with a small team in a startup environment is preferred.
We're very active in open source communities.
Also, of all the places I've ever worked (including the allegedly "don't be evil" one), this place is the most serious about values and integrity. We have a huge opportunity in front of us, but we also want to work with people who share those values.
Mutually assured destruction. If Facebook sued Yahoo, Yahoo could sue Facebook right back.
I'm not really sure what Facebook thinks they are gaining with this clause. They aren't going to stop patent trolls, because they are non-practicing entities. Maybe they want to guard against someone making improvements to React and then suing Facebook if they do something similar later.
Pre Mayer Yahoo did sue Facebook over patents. They settled. As far as I could see the fact that the only big patent fight fb has been in ended with a company with a boatload of lawyers being cool with these terms should bode well for anyone else. If you have patents they shouldn't rely explicitly on open source library x y z, but I am not a lawyer either.
I'm on shaky grounds trying to talk about macroeconomics, but I don't think loose monetary policy counts as a bubble, exactly.
It would be a bubble if everyone believed that loose monetary policy was going to last forever. The Fed is well aware of the trillions of dollars they've created and they have the ability to make it go away, once the economy is moving again to their satisfaction.
Planet Money did a segment on this last week. The problem is, a lot of that money never made it out into the regular economy -- when the Fed creates money, it's really creating it for banks which are supposed to have incentives to loan it out. But mostly, according to that show, the banks aren't lending it out. At the very least, this shows they don't have the requisite irrational exuberance for it to be a bubble.
One thing for sure: it seems that banks have less incentive to make productive investments than the Fed thinks they do. A possible reason why: "manager capitalism" yields higher incentives for short term speculation, bonuses, etc. Maybe a trickle of that money has made it into VC but I have no idea how to determine that.
Let's say we never had "the news", and we all decided we needed to help society understand and react to novel events. Would we invent newspapers and cable channels? I don't think so.
When modern institutions realize they have an information distribution problem, they don't get a bunch of ink-stained, dubiously sober arts graduates with no special qualifications, and tell them to write stories. They pay people to do regularly updated dashboards or reports with charts and graphs, establish information reporting networks and hierarchies, institutionalize whistleblowers, schedule mandatory periodical reviews of how certain projects are going, that sort of thing.
The human element is necessary but journalistic "storytelling" is just a euphemism for titillation or reinforcement of certain narratives. With minor exceptions, I'm not sure it was ever any different.
Who is the "we" that is doing the inventing? The News God with the power to correct perverse incentives and keep prisoners from defecting? Doesn't exist. The committee of Folks Who Care About Policy And Represent a Broad Cross-Section of Society but Don't Get into Stupid Arguments? Doesn't exist.
Even if they did, an organization would discover that they could get more views and exert more power using titilatory stories. What you propose is not a stable Nash Equilibrium.
This is a great point, but we also know that institutional, internal information distribution systems, of the kind I mentioned, don't fall prey to that. (They may fall prey to other things -- agreeing with the boss, groupthink, etc.)
Anyway the reason why is because they have different incentives. The question is how to make incentives like that work for society, hopefully while keeping the critical independence of the media. We can't imagine that now, but we have new funding forms like Kickstarter, and Wikipedia is an existence proof for achieving consensus about what claims are well-sourced.
But I think we agree that it's not a great idea to run society on an information system that gets paid every time it stimulates our basest impulses for the lowest possible cost. The endgame of that is Buzzfeed.
I disagree. If you want to get people engaged with the level of unemployment in the country, showing them a chart of unemployment figures are not going to engage them much. Dashboards, charts, etc. are great for engaging people in things they already care about.
Instead, a journalist can contextualise those jobs figures and explain why someone you don't know being out of work can affect your life. Narrative is, and always has been, a method of engaging people.
Never mind the fact that journalists also uncover data themselves. Formalising whistleblowers is all very well, but you still want someone to investigate. Take yesterday's story of a Congressman who claimed more miles in expenses than his car had driven - that was a reporter querying FOIL records to match up the numbers. Two completely different data sets in different governmental bodies. There would be no whistleblower there. Who heads up these information reporting networks, the government? What about government corruption?
What you are describing sounds ideal - but that's exactly what it is, an ideal. Very few real life systems work like that.
Full disclosure, I used to study journalism. I'm being intentionally provocative. I do want us to question the idea that journalistic writing skills are essential to the goals we have, of an informed public that reacts with wisdom to events.
It's like questioning why tech executives have to be adult-supervision MBAs from an Ivy league. Ostensibly the MBA is trained to be a manager of $anything, but a founding engineer might still be a better CEO due to their special understanding and vision. And that MBA is never going to have as much skin in the game - they're in it for what they can get.
Similarly the journalist is allegedly better trained to tell the story of $anything, but maybe we could do more effective work with subject matter experts who pick up the basics of fact-checking, storytelling, and information design. And journalists, unless they are assigned to cover a beat or do a long investigation, rarely have much invested in a story - if something else juicy comes up, they're onto the next thing by tomorrow. And in the Buzzfeed era, that's becoming the next few minutes.
Any time you read a story by a general-purpose journalist on something you know well, there's a familiar pattern. It all is very slick and authoritative-sounding, but is usually hilariously wrong and simple-minded. Consider that this is happening all the time, for the subjects where you aren't an expert. So much for 'writing skills'.