back to article Machismo is ruining the tech industry for all of us. Equally

How people in IT treat one another is a subject whose taboo nature is having a deleterious effect on talent acquisition and retention. Some see it as chauvinism and machoism run amok, especially if their axe to grind is the lack of women in tech. Others have different views, but the topic is so charged that any attempt at …

  1. AndyS

    You would say that though.

    I bet you wrote it on a Mac, too.


    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: You would say that though.

      Die you Windows heretic!!

  2. BasicChimpTheory

    "Axe to grind" is a fairly emotionally charged term.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Axe to grind" is a fairly emotionally charged term.

      With all due respect, that sounds like somebody who's looking to take offence, and will still do so regardless. Which you may not mean, but illustrates another tech related problem that people are very poor at coping with instant written communications. My last two weeks have been a miserable time of trying to contain people getting on their high horse over something or other in email. The trigger point is always something that seemed innocuous to the author, and then in a few presses of "send" there's a petty flame-war going on, rather than people cooperating to get their job done.

      I think there must be a huge market for a course "Dealing with email" and a follow up "Managing emotions and email". Most of us would need to go in these.....

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: course "Dealing with email" and a follow up "Managing emotions and email"

        I've been pondering to develop something like that for some time now. The working title so far is along the lines of 'communication skills for technical people, but without all that touchy-feely-stuff'.

        Over the years I've realized that my initial response to any problem is a technical solution. Which is fine as long as it is actually a technical problem. But if it happens to be a non-technical problem, well...

        I think that most problems involving people are of a non-technical nature and are based on a failure to communicate. And ironically the problems are worsened by using technical means of communications. (Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove an excellent illustration of that. Watch it again under the assumption that it's all about a failure to communicate on several levels, it's worth it.)

        Over the years I've also realized that people are totally irrational, especially those who are convinced that they are not.

      2. Vic

        I think there must be a huge market for a course "Dealing with email"

        I once went on a course entitled "managing across cultures", which was primarily about working in a multi-national company, with different ways of doing things in different countries. It had a great piece on email barnies - which is applicable both to linguistic/cultural differences as well as just the usual awkwardness. The trick is this: when you read an email that gets your hackles up, stop a minute and write down - on paper, not on-screen - what the sender *actually* said. No inferences, no assumptions. Then simply note, for each entry, whether the statement is true, false, or unknown.

        Pretty soon, most such angry exchanges can be narrowed down to a minor misunderstanding, since most of us are actually quite reasonable most of the time.


  3. Dan Wilkie

    One of the things that helped me the most to accept different levels and stop judging people for not being as smart as me (because I'm CLEARLY the cleverest guy in the office, natch) was when I went into contracting - I went from 3rd Line Permie dealing with the Rockstar stuff and avoiding customers to a 1st Line Contract role. Which meant I had to sit and speak to everyone. All day. Some were lovely, some were babbling rage monsters. But I had to be nice, curteous, polite, and deal with their issues as best I could in the time I had available before I had to kick it upstairs (and there's nothing more frustrating than knowing how to fix a problem, but having to kick it to 2nd Line because the fix will take too long).

    I'd been on the 1st Line desk when I first started out in IT many moons ago, and I'd always seen it as a bottom rung to leave as quick as I could. Going back after all that time climbing up the tree was an eye opener, and has made me far better at the whole soft skills side of things.

    Would I do a 1st line job again? Not if I can help it - I like to dig into things and deal with the juicy problems nobody else can fix. But I no longer look down on 1st line guys like I used to as the runts of the litter.

    I'm still the Alpha though...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh look

    Feminists whinging. Haven't seen that before.

    1. Cynical Observer
      Thumb Up

      Re: Oh look

      If you've read this far you're probably wondering what this has to do with women in tech. In truth, not much. The women in tech thing is one really minor example I threw up front in order to send the really foaming-at-the-mouth types shrieking to the comments section before they would finish reading the article. That way they'll be really easy to identify and ignore later on.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh look

        The Reg talks about Usability issues, yet split very short pieces into multiple pages just to bump up their page views.

        I *never* click to view the second page of an short article, and I only address the issues on the page I read.

        Ha ha got me :-/

        1. ratfox

          Re: Oh look

          I *never* click to view the second page of an short article, and I only address the issues on the page I read.

          That paragraph was on the first page.

        2. PassiveSmoking

          Re: Oh look


    2. Jeff from California

      Re: Oh look

      I'm always amused by how posts like this bring out the most insecure guys possible, who are so blinded by the Denning-Kruger effect that anything that potentially increases the number of people in tech is, by their definition, an existential threat.

      When I first got into coding, in the 1970s, I grew to believe that we were 30 or 40 years away from software becoming a true engineering discipline, analogous to civil, aeronautic, or chemical engineering. It's presumed sentients like Bahboh here that remind me that we'll ALWAYS be "30 to 40 years away".

      Here in the Democratic People's Republic of Singapore, (differing from "…of Korea" primarily by the presence of MASSIVE foreign investment), startups routinely die for lack of available talent. Four years ago when I was staffing up my most recent one here, I'd have given my eyeteeth for qualified people, male, female, or other. I've also had the opportunity here to see first-hand how the reinforcement of cultural divisions actively hinders a society from progressing.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh look

      you have a micropenis

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2/3 of medical students are women

    Feminism is ruining the NHS because women work less hours, for less years and retire earlier ( while dying later ).

    But carry on whining because women aren't nerdy enough.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 2/3 of medical students are women

      But the 2/3 is only possible because doctors have always created a caring nuturing welcoming environment free of the cult of secret knowledge, overbearing self-opinion and ego

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: 2/3 of medical students are women

        created a caring nuturing welcoming environment free of the cult of secret knowledge, overbearing self-opinion and ego

        You busted my sarcasmometer. Many patients died!

    2. BurnT'offering

      Re: Feminism is ruining the NHS

      Machismo is saving the NHS because men work more hours, for more years and retire later ( while dying earlier ).

      Clearly women are smarter than men.

    3. PassiveSmoking

      Re: 2/3 of medical students are women

      I think you've got the wrong website, mate.

      That's the place you really want to be posting.

  6. petur


    About bloody time! For years I'm being denied the ability to go to work in shorts, t-shirt and sandals (weather permitting)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: equality

      Sod that, I want to wear high heels and a mini-skirt!!

      1. Steve K

        Re: equality

        Well to judge your request properly we need to know if you are male or female, Mr/Ms. Other - if that's your real name.......

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: equality

          >we need to know if you are male or female, Mr/Ms. Other

          Presumably the mini-skirt will allow that

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: equality

            Won't be definitive, could be waiting for the "operation".

          2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: equality

            Well, one man's miniskirt is an other man's kilt...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personally I judge peoples ability not on knowledge but on willingness to learn as that is the key to knowledge.

    I like Plato's comment I know that I know nothing as it's a good way to view yourself, as that way you can always learn and it avoids you believing you know it all. Think of it this way I've took courses in things that I am very proficient in and most would probably say I don't need to do that but it's those people that don't realise there is always something you don't know that benefits you greatly.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      I think that Plato was quoting Socrates, but what do I know... anyway, the willingness to learn, that's the key. Cheers!

      1. Lysenko

        Plato was talking about Socrates but there is no evidence that it is a direct quote. I guess this sort of nitpicking one-upmanship is probably a manifestation of "machismo" culture. Unfortunately it is also the basis of all debugging.

  8. Cynical Observer

    Is this getting worse with time

    The cardinal sin of tech is to not know something that someone else knows. More than any other profession, techies do not tolerate a lack of knowledge.

    It wasn't always this bad. When I were a lad... some 25 years ago, it was still a very difficult thing to admit that one might not know something, but - and perhaps it was the environment - a person would not get slammed for doing so. The older guys that I worked with would take the time to explain it.

    Now - if one turned around in 3, 6, 9 weeks time after that and still didn't know it then you were advised to get to grips with it very quickly. And trying to bluff - that was fatal, especially if it was something that should have been known and mastered.

    Rather unfortunately, taking it on-line only allows those with ego to shout "Look at ME and how much I know" so much more easily. That may be why so many of us tend not to go to certain fora all that often.

    1. gv

      Re: Is this getting worse with time

      If I don't know about something, I'm quite willing to admit it. Better that than trying to bluff it: I've only seen one example in my career of somebody who lied about their skills to get a job -- they got found out fairly quickly and were shown the door.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Is this getting worse with time

      And yet the largest and fastest growing tech site is

      Created to help millions of people with their programming problems and now wildly successful helping them with problems in every other area

      1. sysconfig

        Re: Is this getting worse with time

        And yet the largest and fastest growing tech site is

        If there's one thing they got absolutely right there, it's the reputation system. People earn score for solutions that helped somebody else. Or even for asking very good questions! Once they have a sufficient score, new privileges are awarded, like moderating other people's questions for example.

        Stackoverflow managed to achieve what no other forum does: Self-regulation and discipline among regulars. And it's all based on how they let people earn status. It's simple, but bloody brilliant.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Is this getting worse with time

          Yeah but sometimes you get downvoted / your question marked as "duplicate" by fscking arseholes of and blights who have tons of reputation probably obtained by answering "How do download jQuery" questions about 10'000 times who don't even understand your question or think the answer is "obvious" because "it's in the books" (where it is obviously wrong to anyone who can do arithmetic and is not blinded by the light of the paper-writing malcomputing glitterati)

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Is this getting worse with time

            It's not perfect but it does show that what techies care about most is getting/giving the right answer.

            You don't get a high rep because you went to Eton, or you have more twitter followers or more FB friends, or a Gruniad column.

      2. Mark 85


        They do seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Machismo seems to really come out in forums and sites that have anonymous posters. For example, too many of Linux forums are really abusive to newbies. Part of knowledge is knowing that you don't know and asking questions. The abusive types seem to think that they discovered all knowledge and through some cosmic quirk, everyone else suddenly has that same level.

        I've found that to ask usually takes more balls than to blast someone for not knowing. Want to be a human being... help instead of toasting everyone in sight. There's more power in sharing knowledge than lambasting.

    3. Jeff from California

      Re: Is this getting worse with time

      Part of the reason for that is that, compared to when we got into the field (1970s for me), there are so few older guys (or women) in the industry now.

      In any proper engineering discipline, experience is valued, and one does not attain "senior" or "principal" levels without decades (usually quite plural) of experience. For software, I've seen adverts for "senior software 'engineers'" asking for as little as 1-1/2 years of experience, and I saw a "chief 'engineer'" advert last week, for an established firm, that was asking for a piddly four years of experience.

      In four years, from what I've seen, people usually get to the point where they begin to understand what the important questions are. It takes quite a while beyond that for anyone to be able to evaluate competing answers, and that's if they're disciplined about learning (which too few of us are). Admit it: how much of what you pick up is I-need-this-next-week-for-the-project-I'm-on, and how much is I-don't-know-when-I'm-going-to-need-this-but-it-could-come-in-handy? Technicians focus on the former; engineers mix in the latter.

      The predictable result of that is that nobody "has time" to learn from their or others' less-than-successful experiences, which means that nobody HAS experience in the traditional sense — you just manage to guess right enough for two or three years and then go into management, or leave.

      Is that any way to run anything that fancies itself a profession?

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Is this getting worse with time

        "Is that any way to run anything that fancies itself a profession?"

        From where I sit - no. But then I am in civil engineering.

        On the other hand, "that way" practicality ensures that there will always be pastures for unicorns.

  9. Lysenko

    Nothing special about Tech...

    The male/female ratio is equally skewed when it comes to car mechanics, plumbers, astrophysics, washing machine repairs etc. Essentially, any activity that involves yes/no answers and places zero emphasis on feelings and emotional reactions is skewed towards men.

    When your washing machine floods your kitchen or your starter motor locks up (or you smell burning rust) it doesn't matter what anyone feels about it. There are no "safe spaces". The equipment will not negotiate, it will not be reasonable it will not compromise. You come face to face with the ghastly reality that what you want, think or feel does not matter.

    Given that the above is presently immutable, it is unsurprising that inter-personal aspects tend the same way and I'm not at all convinced it is worthwhile to try to change that. If I am going to have to tackle vicious hostility from the Linux operating system, what is the advantage in toning down Linus himself?

    I don't want my code being called "questionable" or "suboptimal" if the OS is going to throw it back at me with an ID10T error. Tell me I'm an idiot. Tell me to RTFM. Don't spout euphemisms to spare my feelings because the end user won't ... it's a machine.

    IT has (what is being characterised here as) a 'macho' culture because the profession is dedicated to managing and sometimes fighting a bunch of Terminators. "Emotional intelligence" doesn't have any utility when your opponent has no emotions.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I think it all depends on who/what you define as your opponent.

      For too many people, it is you, not the job.

      1. Lysenko

        who/what you define as your opponent

        My opponent at this moment is an i.MX28 ARM board that needs to gather data over SNMP. It is being infuriatingly pedantic, showing no common sense, repeating itself, refusing to understand what I mean and being an insufferable grammar nazi!!

        It is also utterly oblivious to the effects of its behaviour on my emotional state and not even slightly intimidated by the prospect of being reported to Livestock Management HR.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: who/what you define as your opponent

          >My opponent at this moment is an i.MX28 ARM board

          Have you tried buying it flowers and empathizing with it ?

          1. Lysenko

            Have you tried buying it flowers and empathizing with it ?

            Buying it flowers could be construed as sexual harassment or at least a patriarchal micro-aggression. Empathizing doesn't work as it just sits there and ignores me. Counselling sessions are worthless because it won't engage with the process. I'm beginning to suspect that although it is clearly marked as ARM it may self identify as MIPS (or even x86!).

            Unfortunately the social hierarchy is clear. This CPU has friends in high places and it networks (when it feels like it) way better than I do. It is far more trouble and expense to swap the hardware than the wetware. I just have to shut up and deal with this socially dysfunctional and uncommunicative silicon oppressor.

        2. Mark 85

          Re: who/what you define as your opponent

          It will, however, respect the threatened application of a large hammer. If it doesn't respect the hammer, it loses.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Nothing special about Tech...

      It's geekdom writ large and geeks just aren't good at interpersonal stuff. If they were, they wouldn't be geeks. What the feminazi's who complain about it don't get is that you can't kill that culture without also killing the goods it produces, or at least the combination of quality and quantity we currently produce.

      1. GrumpenKraut

        Re: Nothing special about Tech...

        > ... feminazi's...

        Please see Trevor's prediction in the article.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Traditional male culture is awful. We're horrible to one another."

    You've obviously not worked in a female dominated workplace. People are horrible to each other and to suggest that women behave any differently is very naive.

    I've known grown men reduced to tears from the way they've been treated by their female co-workers - it's like lambs to the slaughter if they spot a weakness.

    1. FuzzyWuzzys

      Re: Seriously?

      Absolutely, a group of women can be just as bad as a group of men. To best honest I think watching two women at each other's throats is more scary than two men, women often won't try to hold back and show off like two blokes will, women will just tear into each other verbally or physically.

      When it comes down to it, both sexes are as bad as each other just in slightly different ways.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seriously?

        "...women often won't try to hold back and show off like two blokes will, women will just tear into each other verbally or physically"

        And they NEVER forget, much less forgive. They'll bring up shit that happened YEARS ago like it was yesterday, with the same degree of emotion like it just happened. Quite something to see. Guys? We're too fucking lazy to a) remember it, and b) give enough of a shit to get excited about it again. Not sure which is worse.

      2. jelabarre59

        Re: Seriously?

        > Absolutely, a group of women can be just as bad as a group of men.


        And it starts in grade school. Seeing the hell my daughter deals with already in grade school, I could see her going into MMA just so she can beat the snot out of other women on a regular basis.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seriously?

        Personally, women make the worst boss. They are downright vindictive and hateful at times. I won't work where it is commonplace practice. Too bad if feminazis don't like that.

    2. John 104

      Re: Seriously?


      Women DO behave differently. They are just horrible to each other in different ways that men are horrible to each other.

    3. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: Seriously?

      This. The only person I have ever seen reduced to tears at work in twenty years, was a guy bullied by his female boss.

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Pluralistic Ignorance

    With very few exceptions, all those executives, architects, thought influences and other "important people" I have talked to over the years feel the exact same way.

    So everyone knows it's shit but everyone is still playing along?

    From "Your Code as a Crime Scene" (recommended reading for coders and testers)

    What just happened in our fictional example is that you fell prey to pluralistic ignorance. Pluralistic ignorance happens in situations where everyone privately rejects a norm but thinks that everyone else in the group supports it. Over time, pluralistic ignorance can lead to situations where a group follows rules that all of its members reject in private. We fall in this social trap when we conclude that the behavior of our peers depends on beliefs that are different from our own, even if we behave in an identical way ourselves. That’s what happened around Andersen’s naked emperor. Because everyone praised the emperor’s new clothes, each individual thought they missed something obvious. That’s why they chose to conform to the group behavior and play along with the praise of the wonderful clothes they couldn’t see.

    I always felt the "tech machismo" was a leftover from 80's continental-style schooling (the Bismarckian style) where collaborative work was not only shunned but actively suppressed by teaching personnel and everyone had to "swim or drown on your own". 'twas better at uni but by then the damage had been done.

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Pluralistic Ignorance

      My wife's first degree (medical) was in a very female dominated cohort. Mine was Maths/CS. I was stunned to hear about the behaviour of her fellow students. Come a big researchish assessment, there was a rush to the library (in teams), as people (2 men out of a class of 21) bagged essential references, and if they were (commonly) restricted to library exclusive use, hiding them in obscure parts of the building.

      Now you can guess that this was about 30 years ago when much of the material was not available online. But I was still shocked, my subject attracted lots of slightly odd individuals (at least socially), but this would never have occurred to us (opposite ratio). Unless you really did hate someone (in which case you simply did not ask), we actually helped one another. Vicious team 'play' of this sort would never have been tolerated.

  12. nilfs2

    The same could be said...

    ...about kindergarden teachers, most are women, same with social workers and so on; some careers are gender bias more than others by nature.

  13. OzBob

    Yes, IT is sort of a meritocracy

    but at least medicine has a specific entry criteria, which eliminates a lot of the Dunning Kruger effect.

    I have had subordinates in a technical role insist that their solution is the right one simply because they thought of it first, then use that position to go fishing through your experience and find out all that you know by arguing constantly. It's almost like a dilbert cartoon, having someone insist that anything they don't know is obviously not important.

    1. AceRimmer

      Re: Yes, IT is sort of a meritocracy

      Or they'll insist on starting the coding on Day 1 and then plead time poverty when it comes to building the solution properly.

      Unfortunately in IT is quite often the solution which is implemented first which wins. Once something is up and running even if it is a complete streaming pile of shit, it will be left in place as refactoring always has least precedence.

      1. Vic

        Re: Yes, IT is sort of a meritocracy

        Unfortunately in IT is quite often the solution which is implemented first which wins. Once something is up and running even if it is a complete streaming pile of shit, it will be left in place as refactoring always has least precedence.

        Refactoring isn't always enough. Sometimes you have to admit that you chose the wrong path, and the work so far has to be thrown away. Some prototypes fail.

        Sadly, many people believe the value of something is what you have paid for it, so they are extremely loath to discard work that has taken a number of weeks. And we're straight into the Sunken Cost fallacy; if there's a mistake in the design, it's usually cheaper to chuck everything and do it right than to try to patch up a faulty plan.


  14. jelabarre59

    > This leads me to the conclusion that the ladies are, in general, just smarter than the guys. They see the kind of hostile environment that IT represents and say “nope”.


    Funny, I've been trying to convince people of that for years. I know I will be discouraging my daughter from entering the IT field. Unless, of course, she decides on a career as an MBA instead. In which case I will be pushing the IT role as a way to lessen the destruction of her soul.

  15. ecofeco Silver badge

    All too true

    I find that most IT guys are indeed, manners and civility "challenged." "Personable" will never within their ken in their entire lives.

    Oh hell, they're fucking misanthropes, the lot!

    1. Denarius

      Re: All too true

      must be personal luck. The most vicious IT person I know is female. Most blokes, especially the older ones, cheerfully answer questions and instruct or assist. Its some of the young that are stuck up arrogant incompetents.

      As for some of the users and consultants protecting their sinecures, {S} Mere bad manners. If that drives one out of the industry, you wont do any better elsewhere unless a Trappist monastery is in need of recruits.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: All too true

        AFAIK every monastery there is is in dire need of recruits, so go for it!

        1. Vic

          Re: All too true

          AFAIK every monastery there is is in dire need of recruits, so go for it!

          My liver would never stand it.


          [Who's got a Rochefort 10 that badly needs drinking...]

  16. Mookster

    Questions are an invaluble part of warefare :-)

    " is how we treat anyone that dares to ask a question."

    Ach, your doing it wrong. Questions are the only way to expose technical incompetance....

    "I might be stupid, but you seem to be saying X, but, don't you think that X is really a pile of steaming shite because of A, B & C whereas Y would be much better ?"

  17. A Ghost

    Anyone with truly higher level consciousness...

    ... knows that asking questions, be it for reinforcement of one's own knowledge, or to fill gaps in one's knowledge, is a 'higher level consciousness' thing to do.


    I happen to have 'higher level consciousness'. It's pretty rare. Even among the truly gifted and intelligent - people with 150 IQs can be pretty dumb sometimes, and people who are thick as two short planks can startle you with deep insight and original intellect - true thinkers (even though they are 'dumb') who can work (some) things out for themselves.

    Obviously to work in tech, you have to have 'higher intelligence' - higher the better, but it does not follow that the most intelligent are the most conscious. Hence the preponderance of ASD in tech. It would be insulting to say this if it were not true in today's PC radical feminist take offence at everything brave new world dystopia, we now find ourselves in. But you know it, coz you work there, and I know it, coz I'm on the spectrum myself.

    There is an inherent paradox with what I just said in that last paragraph. Yes, I did infer that the most intelligent might possibly be on the spectrum themselves, and therefore be lacking in the consciousness department. I think that is true for the most extreme cases, all the way up to idiot savant which is very rare I know. I don't have enough experience in the IT workplace to propound any further. And there is the paradox that even though I am a 'bit autistic', I have a higher consciousness than those who are much cleverer than me, be they on the spectrum or not. I have an uncanny ability to read some people's minds and see straight through them, even in a room full of NT (neurotypical) people, who they have totally fooled. So consciousness can trump intelligence sometimes.

    What do I mean by 'higher consciousness'? Simply that I can see things others can not see, be that stuff that is right in front of them, or hidden from them, no matter how intelligent or intellectual they are. I am able to hold not just opposing viewpoints on a range of subjects, but positive/negative viewpoints also. I am even able to go 'quantum' sometimes and believe that something is both 'right' and 'wrong' at the same time, whilst neither being 'right' or 'wrong' at all. I don't know enough about quantum computing and qubits, but I believe this is essentially what is going on there.

    Most people can not do this. They see it as a sign of madness or schizophrenia, or being dumb or weak willed (ironically). Even those that can hold opposing viewpoints, can not go 'quantum' - there in lies insanity for them. But one man's insanity, is another man's higher consciousness. Sorry can't explain it better than that. But next time you come across someone who you think is dumb, no matter how clever you are, remember that their brain might be able to entertain concepts you never dreamed of in your wildest philosophies. I was recently reading an article on intelligence (a major subject for me), and they said that people with IQs that differ by more than 30 points (or something) either way, be it up or down, tend to view the other person as having some kind of mental disorder.

    I have struck up conversations in pubs with people and got along great, until I try to explain one of these concepts, and the other person has said: You are a schizo! Get away from me...

    I can assure you that I am not and have never been 'schizo'. Another word for the reaction of these people is 'cognitive dissonance'. Just does not compute, so their brains meltdown (yes even neurotypical people have meltdowns) and they hurl abuse. Because often in the world of neurotypical people, violence and the threat of violence is a daily staple that lubricates social exchange. Might is right. It works. No one can argue with that.

    I am not clever enough to work in tech. I'm too stupid. Just a fact of life. I studied for years on and off to learn computer programming, only to find at the end of it that I just couldn't do it, well, WELL. Don't get me wrong, if you met me at a party you'd be my new best friend if you told me that you work on compiler optimisation techniques, or that you do Ring '0' stuff, or that your speciality is the STL in C++ - I'd be absolutely fascinated and buy you a drink. You'd be far more interesting to me than a Rock Star, or CEO - you would be someone that 'does something'. Something interesting.

    I've hung around with rock stars and famous people as well as people from all walks of life, and I would be missing nothing by talking to you rather than them. To me, YOU would be the true Rock Star in the room, not them. Just like how the programmers that make the new audio software of today are the true rock stars of the scene. They are held in higher regard by the musicians, than they themselves hold the musicians (then again who can blame them).

    People that know me are totally unable to fathom the fact that I am 'just not clever enough' to work in tech. They think I am taking the piss. They see an auto-didactic wizard in front of them, and their cognitive dissonance is too high.

    It's lonely at the top of the consciousness tree. To actually understand people and know what is going on in the world today. Most people haven't got a clue about who they are, about the world they live in. It is actually painful, to the point I am researching suicide methods. I do this because this world holds nothing for me but pain on most days of the week. I've been suffering quite badly the last years and it has become unbearable. So I will do the logical thing. It's a long term project, but I estimate it is probably about another few years away to fruition.

    I digress. But hopefully I have made the point, blahing on about 'oh, I have higher consciousness, man', that I am not some kind of drunken drug addled hippy (nowt wrong with that either) who thinks he knows it all, through nothing else other than sheer solipsism. Having higher consciousness means being totally aware of your weaknesses. The things inside you that you can never change, because it's you. You might realise you are a coward. You might realise that you have a sadistic streak and enjoy inflicting pain on defenseless creatures. It could be anything. Jung was right: The process of individuation is a very painful thing. You might find things out about yourself that you don't like.

    But in that pain and torment, you discover the things that you can change, about yourself. You are able to take the full force of an ego blow, because your 'facade' has already been destroyed. You are no man. You are every man. You are able to deal with subjects non-emotively. As opposed to Ledswinger's comment about 'getting the wrong end of the stick' with emails. You should try posting on an audio forum. It only takes less than three pages before painful insults are hurled willy nilly at perceived slights given by others. It's a jungle out there. And a mine field.

    So yes, here we are. Macho culture and machismo in the work place. Not really. Just fear. Lack of understanding. Lack of consciousness. Lack of doing 'the work'. Some men are born to enlightenment, others have it thrust upon them. I am the latter. I just wanted to be an average jo, doing average things, but I was cast out by society, sent into the wilderness, and here I am, after years of shunning, the shamen at the edge of the village, the outlaw, the hermit...

    I would give anything to have a proper job. To be normal. To have contact with other human beings that share my ideas. I've done a lot of voluntary work for small software houses (one man shows), from writing of documentation, to beta-testing, to designing of GUIs, to marketing of the product. It would be great to get paid for that and do it for real. I can't see me ever fitting in in the workplace where neurotypical politics reigns supreme. Having said that, autistic people drive me up the wall. It depends on the person, and it can be funny sometimes, but it's bloody hard work.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. A Ghost


    Why am I writing all this and how does it correspond to the article?

    Well, I had to get an angle on what the article was about, thinking it another 'gender war clickbait' thing by a SJW. Then I saw it was by the good Dr. Potts. So I've given it some serious consideration.

    I'm not sure what this 'machismo' is of which he speaks, unless he was talking about mad bad stevie boy ballmer. Yup, there's machismo for ya. And other things you put up your nose. Plus rampant ego inflation gone wild. Ballmer, in fact, is a prime example of a very intelligent man, if not intellectual, who is most certainly not from the 'higher consciousness' camp. I think, most of us here would agree on that.

    So, apart from Ballmer, this 'machismo' thing, I take to be 'macho programming' like druggies do 'macho bonging' - not necessarily a male chauvinist thing per se, but yes, from the lower orders of fear, ignorance and whatnot, no matter what your company status or IQ ranking. I think what he is also saying is that if there were a little less of this typically male attitude, then the workplace would be a much better happier, and productive place. I agree. That goes across the board. So that is why I didn't take this as a wholly gender war type piece.

    Now would be a good time to make a joke for some levity, if not brevity, about how men hate to ask for directions. Boys and Girls laugh at that one, because of the kernel of truth. So that is what I think Trevor is saying. But I might have got that totally wrong. I actually have serious comprehension problems sometimes. Hopefully not now.

    Of course the workplace would be better with capable women in it. Most of us who have studied computing and programming know of the great contribution made by women. I will be eternally grateful to all the lovely (oops sex pest ALERT! CRB CHECK ON AISLE 6, REPEAT CRB CHECK ON AISLE 6!) ladies who manually typed in the 0s and 1s for the on die instruction sets that power the basic mathematical functions such as subtraction and addition (multiplication would have been too hard for them so one of the lads did that one on his tea break), that power modern day CPUs still to this day, for example.

    Not a job you want to get wrong, and one that has zero tolerance for mistakes. Hopefully we don't find out in the future that one of the tarts got a 0 or a 1 in the wrong place and not only have we been doing it wrong all these years, but civilization will end when it triggers the nuclear apocalypse. All because one dozy mare wasn't paying attention and was doing her bloody nails at the same time!

    The last bit was a joke. It might have even been funny. It might be more funny to males, or it might be more funny to females, I don't know. But I made it (in whatever kind of taste it was) to prove a point. We have gone from true blatant sexism in the workplace, to radical feminist political correctness, without stopping, or collecting 200... no middle ground. One day it was sticking your fingers up the secretary's skirt, to being sued for sexual harrassment because the boss said 'lovely time of year for it'.

    One wasn't a very nice place to be, especially if you were a woman or a sensitive male such as myself. But the other is an insufferable dystopia that will end in floods of tears.

    I used to cringe when I worked on a building site. The builders would do that catcalling and insulting thing when in a group to other vulnerable females on the street. They never did it to a woman with a six foot six athletic and thuggish looking black man next to them though. Funny that. Jesus, did I just add racial stereotyping to my list of deep faults? I hated it, but I could do nothing about it. If I had said anything, then I would have been in trouble.

    Let me just finish this by saying, I worked quite a bit on building sites as I was funding my way to 30,000 quids worth of debt for a degree I was a module short of a first for. Close but no cigar, and plenty of debt, with no prospects of ever getting a job. I hated it, but I did it because I had to and had no other choice. The building trade is indeed a true macho culture.

    I was abused nearly every day for the most part. Fights were common, but only with those you had a chance with, usually just frustrations between low level workers. For the most part I could not fight back - the men were too vicious, they were in gangs and had numbers on their side, and they relished violence with quite a few being football hooligans too. They hated women, and they hated black people. They called women 'cunts', they called black people 'niggers'. I had a black girlfriend at the time and pulled one bloke up about it, because it was just me and him - fair fight. But I could not have done that with they typical cockney lad humiliation I faced. It was terrible and I had no recourse. So I know how women feel, sorry, and I know how black people feel, sorry, I just do.

    I would spend my day working out how I was going to kill certain people. There was one 6 foot 8 inch Irishman who I decided I would take out with a shovel - chop his head off! There was one painter who I decided I would find out where he lived and kill him and his family. Just the sort of stuff that goes through your mind in an average day at work. That is machismo.

    Having said all that, it wasn't as bad as working in a factory full of women. I was touched up, humiliated, verbally abused. And all in the name of 'taking a joke, love, don't be so stuck-up'. I honestly know what it is like. Dark days, perpetrated against me by both males and females.

    It's a shame we have this government coordinated gender war at the moment. Radical feminism has pushed me further to the right. I read the Telegraph now, and no longer entertain the Guardian. I don't believe in left/right paradigms anyway, as most 'conscious' people see through that one as well. But it's useful to paint a picture or to communicate sometimes.

    It truly pains me to see the sheer hatred of men by some women, and the sheer hatred of women by some men. But hate they must. That is what lower consciousness people do. No matter how clever. No matter how stupid. No matter their gender. No matter their age. No matter their 'class'. No matter their 'race'. The world is just a big stirred up mass of seething hatred, with fingers pointing so hard at others, that we are poking each other's eyes out, and it is making us ALL blind.

    That last paragraph sums up all I wanted to say to start with (got there eventually), so I'll just leave it there.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: [contd.]

      A lot of effort (A*) fro a lot of BS (D-)

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: [contd.]

        I can't help but feel that you have just proved one or two of the points in A Ghost post.

    2. d3rrial

      Re: [contd.]

      There's only one thing you can do: Drown yourself in music and chocolate. Fuck the world.

      Live your life as a misanthrope in nihilistic hedonism.

      At least that's what I'd do, if I had the money to afford it.

    3. Old Yank

      Re: [contd.]

      "I'm not sure what this 'machismo' is of which he speaks..."

      Back in the days of Usenet, I developed a theory about the folks who truly believe that their self-assessed, advanced knowledge of technology put them on some kind of elevated plane of existence: They suffered from a condition I labeled elevated techtosterone disorder. Symptoms are: having no real friends - except your imaginary screen friends, being doomed to basement dwelling (as in your parent's), and ultimately winding up working at BestBuy (apologies to those good, helpful people that work there).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: [contd.]

      Brevity is the soul of wit.

      And you are fucking dull dull dull.

  19. Brian Allan 1

    "Males have been raised generation after generation to view everything as a competition, and everyone else as a threat."

    The central cause is Testosterone and the solution is castration of all IT techies. I think this would automatically resolve the ratio of males to females in the profession. I would suggest we use the same approach in a number of other professions; banking, brokerage firms, etc.

    1. A Ghost


      Techies are already seen as castrated. They are laughed at and looked down upon by 'real men' who do 'real jobs'. They are seen as overly politically correct and effeminate, and well, just not real men.

      I've lost count of the times I've heard techies called 'low-testosterone'. It's just a fact of life, that those who aren't as clever will make up for perceived deficit by ruthlessly honing in on any weakness. And that weakness is for techies, the fact they do not have the bottle for a fist fight, and those that do, punch like girls anyway and are a joke. No techie would ever win a fight with the 'real men' who do 'real jobs'. Like builders, say!

      There is a form or kind of dunning-krueger effect at work for most techies I believe. It goes like this: Most techies are intelligent, if not intellectual, and they might even possess 'higher consciousness', though the later is rare, not because they are techies, but because it takes so long and is so painful to reach that point, that most people will actively avoid it. So as clever as they are, they are not clever enough to understand the true contempt and utter disdain with which they are held. You need to be thinking outside of your box to do that, and to do that you have to have gone out of your mind at some point, which is a dangerous thing to do.

      Techies have nice easy lives. They are happy for the most part, even though they are miserable (sorry for going 'quantum' on you here). In short, they have it easy, and on the whole they are nice easy going, low-testosterone, laid back marks. It's just not in their mental mind space, the sheer negativity against them. They know it's a big bad world, but they have no idea just how big or how bad it actually is. Even the 150 IQ ones.

      And while we are skirting around the subject (mine's a pink fluffy one - who cares - there's no one home, just me and my fabulous higher consciousness), it is an absolute given in the gender wars, that techies really do NOT at all understand the full extent to which they are despised by the female of the species, be they male to start with. Unfortunately, I do, because I am cursed with the gift for understanding how the female brain/psyche works. It's not pretty! And I can understand why they do not wish to open that particular pandora's box. And even if they did end up opening pandora's box, they probably wouldn't know what to do with it...

      I jest I jest. But it's true that the majority of women are a disgrace one way or another. None of them are innocent. They're nearly as bad as men! Which is saying something.

      It's all come out in the wash now. Women can see men for what they are. And it's ugly. Men can see women for what they are, and they aren't much better, though they may be a bit.

      The sweet delicious irony is this: Even though I tend to side more with the women, some radical feminazi somewhere is foaming at the mouth, calling up the white knights in anonymous to get me doxxed for a good old fashioned swatting - me and my 90 year old gran. All because I do not 100 percent black and white support their fascist cause. They are a menace, and it is no surprise they are called feminazis.

      They have alienated and isolated the very people fighting their cause (like me), and in their philosophy they sow the seeds of their own destruction. They weren't happy with equal rights, and they won't stop until they have the upper hand and end up treating men as bad as men used to treat women.

      You can't win with these people (feminazis). They are the female equivalent of a man who comes back from the pub and beats seven bells out of his missus. So I don't engage with them at all. I stopped reading the Guardian, and the odd time I'm led there from somewhere else, I do not post comments, knowing that they will be deleted, even if I am perfectly civil and you know, right.

      I watch up here on my high horse, on my high cloud, detached, as all the little people tear each other to shreds below.

      Even though I am not living life anymore, and I want my life to end sooner rather than later, I do genuinely feel a mixture of emotions for the rest of you caught up in this bloody mess. A whole range of emotions, but it's better not to feel at all, one is happier that way.

      Life is a tragedy to those that feel and a comedy to those that think.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: castrate the techies

      This is really shaping up to be a most interesting discussion, and so far has provided me with food for thought for quite some time.

      However, time for a little side step* to lighten up the mood a little, I think.

      *"It's just a jump to the left!"

  20. TheOtherHobbes

    If you want slime and scum, try politics or the more insane corners of academia.

    An extra special institutionalised assholery award goes to banking/finance.

    Dev culture is a Tellytubbies Convention in comparison.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Imposter syndrome

    Interesting that you mention that in reference to architect level jobs. As I moved in that world and now in a role that's essentially a level above that - insuring that the solutions designed by other architects are actually meeting customer needs and helping them redesign solutions when they don't - I've felt that more and more. I'm acutely aware that not only are there things I don't understand that I feel like I should, but that there are things I don't understand that I feel like I should but realize I will never understand because there just isn't time to become an expert on 'everything'.

    So hopefully these feelings are imposter syndrome, rather than actually being an imposter :)

    1. A Ghost

      Re: Imposter syndrome

      I wouldn't say that you are an imposter at all. Just someone with that higher consciousness thing I was talking about, working it out for himself. The vast majority of people never contemplate infinity. Some might contemplate the distance to the sun. You at least have to try to go deep before you can dredge up some of the deeper truths of life.

      You just had a glimpse of the scale of it all, that's all. Many don't. Many don't try.

      This stuff gets filed under common sense after a while and you move on.

      Not only is there not enough time to become an expert on everything, there is not enough time to even know what exists or what you might like or what you might be good at, before even studying it, let alone getting to expert level. Most subjects are probably limited by one's overall aptitude. If you became an expert in maths you might easily become an expert as a musician, but could you become an expert in gardening? What is maths? What is a musician. What is gardening? What are their specific components? Would you be better suited or happier studying one of their core parts?

      I've actually got to a level where I have several serious interests, but apart from one maybe, I'm pretty average at all of them. Unfortunately I've managed to become clever enough to realise how stupid I am. But it's good to know your limitations. One of yours is 'time', as it is for most people. But even then, some people place more importance on it than others. Many don't even know what it is. Some don't even know it exists. We are all limited by time.

      A human lifetime is but a blink of an eye.

      My limitation is intelligence. I do ok overall, even with my limitations, but I have what I call 'black holes' in my understanding of certain concepts, and I've just not been able to grasp them at all. I'd be happy to pay a tutor to come along and explain things to me.

      In fact I was thinking of this earlier today (yesterday) about the time:money exchange, but who doesn't at some point. Time and money are abstract concepts so it might not be so straightforward as you think it is.

      I'm rambling now.

      File under 'pseud's corner'.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just wait until the Safe Space crowd takes over

    You think imposter syndrome is bad now? Just wait until the kids that can't handle anyone disagreeing with them are in a position of having risen to their own level of incompetence. One of the hallmarks of a non-dysfunctional engineering team is the ability to be critical of work product without people taking personal offense (goes hand-in-hand with being able to admit error/ignorance).

  23. SVV

    Ruining bottom lines at many companies, not the entire tech industry

    I thought the article was very well written and like many of the posts here recognised a lot of the behaviour described from my own experiences over the last 20 years in the industry. It should provoke a lot of thought and hopefully inspire some change for the better in a few minds.

    However to assume that this culture exists everywhere is to assume wrongly. I've spent a good chunk of my working life in parts of the UK outside the South East and London (my current abode) and on the nearby continent and can say in general that things are less macho there and more pleasant places to work as a result. As well as the social aspects of this, I also appreciate that arrogant, aggresive, macho and egotistical behaviours of the type described can have seriously detrimental effects on the success of companies where this behaviour takes root.

    To illustrate this, I have a good real life example from my own experience. I once went for an interview at an up and coming startup company. It was conducted by an arrogant obnoxious egotist who I disliked intensely, and even though I was offered a job, I turned it down as the thought of having to deal with this guy all the time was too ghastly to contemplate. A couple of years later I was doing consultancy work where I got to work in numerous companies in the same geographical area, and during general chats with people I encountered quite a few who had actually worked there. All of them cited that guy as the reason they'd left the company, with highly believable stories about the type of behaviour I'd imagined he would indulge in. I heard stories of horrendous rates of staff retention and more and more candidates being needed for a vacant post as word obviously got about amongst the relatively small pool of people in the area. The startup closed not long after, with the founders probably realising too late that the big mouthed guy who claimed to know it all should not have been allowed to ruin their company.

    This is an extreme example, I know, but if you own or work at a company where this sort of behaviour is the norm, please realies that the companies where it isn't tolerated tend to allow more innovation and improvement to flourish, and that really talented people can't abide working with arseholes and leave your company pretty quickly. And that bad reputations travel more quickly than you probably realise.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Management and users promote macho-behaviour by rewarding "saving the day" tech-heroism so you can see "highly regarded" tech-admins who go around fixing self-casued problems sometimes.

    Worse than promoting "heroism" without any depth of knowledge is the refusal to let go of "we want hardware and then we want to be able to decide who does what". This leads to "techie-first manage-later" approaches where any serious design and responsibility is denied and shuved beck into "conttent managers disguised as 'programmers'".

    If you want to improve tech: make techies responsiblle for tech and knowledge-workers for content and move most hardware away.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The only way to win the game is not to play."

    I'll go for a nice game of chess instead of discussing anything like this subject. I really need to relearn shogi.

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