back to article DevOps: Social, cooperative... It's gotta be really diverse, right?

I've been working in tech for nearly 25 years and I'm currently involved in DevOps – a mashup of operations and development that works well with cloud infrastructure. "Is DevOps more diverse than other areas of tech?" The Register asked me one day. There's certainly a perception that it is – with a seemingly higher-than-usual …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    women seem to be disappearing mostly because their career grinds to a halt due to lack of opportunities for training, and poor managerial support. Eighty per cent of leavers change sector away from IT or create their own businesses in order to progress.

    Isn't this the same for men too?

    Maybe the only difference is that women put up with less shit.

    1. AnneCurrie

      Agreed. I think fixing all of this stuff is as useful for men as women

    2. Roml0k

      > Maybe the only difference is that women put up with less shit.

      This is somewhat borne out in studies of quitting rates (women are apparently 2x more likely to quit a job than men), but even this does not necessarily correlate to leaving STEM entirely.

      The only stats quoted in the article compared STEM women to non-STEM women. I would be interested to see comparable stats for STEM non-women and non-STEM non-women before I'd make a claim that an issue is worse for any particular subgroup.

      1. Rob D.

        Only men or women

        I'm going to assume no transgender jiggery-pokery and assert that 'non-women' actually means 'men'. Non-STEM just means every other career area. So for example, the non-women, i.e. men, part is really easy - just take every %-age mentioned for women and subtract it from 100%.

        You can have a trawl through this from the IET which is a bit scatter-gun and has a touch of an ideological undertone but it includes all the references if you want details:

        Observations like women are 47% of the total workforce but 13% in STEM careers (men are 53% of the workforce but 87% in STEM); 17% full time STEM professors are female but 26.7% in non-STEM (83% full time STEM professors are male but 73.3% in non-STEM); 1/3 UK managers are female but one in ten STEM managers are female (2/3 UK managers are male but 90% of STEM managers are male); every non-STEM FTSE100 has at least one woman on the board while one in five STEM FTSE100 have no women (no non-STEM FTSE100 are all male while one in five FTSE100 STEM is all male).

        Note to self: neither make nor assume any assertion that this is either caused by gender or that any of it must be equalised on some moral ground - this subject isn't that simplistic.

  2. Rob D.
    Thumb Up

    Not just about the fluffy stuff

    Thanks for a pleasantly fact-dominated, dogma-free piece on this topic. It's well worth filtering out the political ideology about equality and focusing on the results (no point attracting a gender-neutral square peg to a gender-neutral round hole).

    My younger daughter and her team recently enjoyed crushing others (mostly, came third) in a national robot building competition, and my 15 year-old daughter has just delivered a talk on implicit gender bias in STEM careers, so I value their input here. OK, self-selection in spades, but they and their peers at that age are clearly up for anything life wants to throw at them, making the intake and 'leaky pipeline' problem seem more relevant than whether the vague, future career appeals to feminine traits in the first place.

    For example, when parents of equally performing children rate the daughters consistently lower at maths than the sons even when performing equally, and by 16 in the UK, twice the proportion of boys elect to proceed with maths than girls, that's not a problem with career choices. For reference it's four times for physics and if you rate the A-level, far worse for computing at ten times.

    It's such a deeply ingrained cultural factor that it'll take a generation or two to clear if it ever does, but improving the early uptake to get educated in relevant areas and reducing the early irrelevant pressures to proceed (like implicit biases at university) may require less effort and yield more results than altering the attractiveness of an industry. Spread the skills and knowledge more widely and then let people choose, male or female.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Not just about the fluffy stuff

      Thanks for a pleasantly fact-dominated, dogma-free piece on this topic.

      Except for declaring over 50% of the population a "minority".

      Does your daughter's talk on implicit gender bias in STEM careers include medicine as a STEM career? Just that male nurses face very explicit discrimination, there's nothing implicit about it. Did she also cover the hiring biases that make it harder for men to compete for jobs? Perhaps she explored the various scholarships that provide financial support to only one gender.

      As for boys electing to proceed with maths, maybe it's because that's one of the very rare subject areas in which it's still possible for them to overcome the education industry's sexist biases.

      I don't know the author of this article and will happily assume she's acting in good faith, and trust that her credentials and experience qualify her to write about DevOps. That's partly because she's writing for El Reg and isn't based out of their San Francisco office, and partly because I'm too trusting - but has absolutely no bearing on her gender. But please, don't go pretending this article has no dogma. It's very explicitly pushing for greater female participation in IT careers.

      Which is fine, if they want that. Just don't perpetuate lies and demonise IT professionals as "t-shirted sociopaths". Trust me, if you want sociopathic behaviour just look to the Sales and Marketing teams or senior management. People working in technology are often socially awkward but that's no excuse to introduce the social estrangement and bullying that pushed them towards that career in the first place.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Socially diverse DevOps

    a. Most women don't gravitate towards engineering.

    b. Most men don't gravitate towards the social "sciences".

    c. This is a law of nature and trying to mangle the language isn't going to change that.

    d. elREg editors: seriously, enough with this social justice diversity waffle.

    key words: advocacy, causation, cloud infrastructure, cognitive bias, compsci-educated, correlation, demographic, diverse techies, ethics, female engineers, fluffy social stuff, gender balanced, increased diversity, minority, penury, pro-diversity, psychological science, social safety nets, survivor bias, t-shirted sociopaths, underrepresented, zeitgeisty ®

    1. cbars

      Re: Socially diverse DevOps

      I found the mention of both selection bias and survivorship bias to be a refreshing example of some introspective, critical thinking. Far removed from the usual "waffle" as you put it.

      Focusing on select words, rather than the general meaning is an excellent example of a lack of empathy and an unwillingness to communicate:


      1. Anonymous Coward
        IT Angle

        Re: Socially diverse DevOps

        > Focusing on select words, rather than the general meaning is an excellent example of a lack of empathy and an unwillingness to communicate:

        It's interesting that the article mentioned James Damore (Danmore?), hounded out of his job for attempting to engage in such communication. The contents of a private forum were leaked and then used as a pretext to fire him.

        I too once drank the koolaid but got well woke, seeing examples such as the above and others. On a personal note, I too once tried to engage in a private-by-email dialogue with one of the 'diversity' crowd. All I got for my trouble was a concerted attempt to dox me and identify my employers and get me fired and my reputation trashed in public.

        There is nothing wrong with tech's ethics that needs cleaning up. The reason 'women seem to be disappearing' from tech is that women (generally) don't have the obsession with the technology that the average male does, who is prepared to spend eighteen hour days in getting the thing to work. As the author put it, women are more interested in 'fluffy social stuff'.

        1. AnneCurrie

          Re: Socially diverse DevOps

          I am happy to engage and not going to dox you or hopefully do anything else too aggressive ;-) I'm going to zoom in on the bit that interests me, which is that "tech's ethics don't need cleaning up". I find that interesting because it could mean one of 2 things:

          - Volkswagen, Uber, Facebook, Cambridge Analytica et al's recent law or social rule-breaking are not a problem; move fast and break things will deliver us more in the long term. This is a valid argument to make. No omelettes without eggshells etc..

          - The above issues are a problem, but they are not ultimately the responsibility of devs, they come from a higher level and we'd get fired if we didn't comply. Again, there is an argument there (although the courts seem to be taking a different view with VW, so we may put ourselves in danger by just following orders).

          Or do you have a third argument?

          1. AnneCurrie

            Re: Socially diverse DevOps

            BTW the reason diversity interests me is from the ethics perspective. I'm concerned that the person who works for 18 hours to get something working (male or female) may not be same the person who says "hang on, should we be doing this at all?" I'm suspect we could do with both people in tech.

          2. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: VW, Uber et al

            It's interesting that you cite these as issues with technical professionals.

            Step back a bit and ask which engineers ran Enron, decided the strategy at Monsanto, led the marketing campaigns in Africa for Nestle, opted to create fake accounts at Wells Fargo or indeed any of the hundreds of other examples of corporate misbehaviour.

            Maybe it's a corporate thing and sweet FA to do with the industry.

            So yes, I have a third argument. It's that by far and away most people working in the IT industry are lovely people, dedicated professionals, well balanced, accepting and motivated, and also fed up of being demeaned and sacrificed at the altar of diversity. Tech's ethics are if anything greatly superior to those of many other industries, and it's only a tiny slice of the tech industry that are even misbehaving.

            So focus on corporate malfeasance and address that, and hopefully you'll also be able to improve the culture at the most toxic company I've ever encountered. It's a multinational travel company that has very different demographics to the tech industry, and trust me, even Uber management would've been ringing for help to escape that place.

            1. AnneCurrie

              Re: VW, Uber et al

              I agree with you that the devs I've worked with have generally been intelligent, thoughtful and lovely individuals. That's why I'd hold us to a higher standard. Execs will always sometimes be idiots or criminals (or both). But eventually one of us lovely people has to write the code. I agree only a tiny section of tech (although representing a big portion of the scale and revenue) is misbehaving. Let's stop it there and roll it back. If not us then who? I suspect the top down approach to policing is too slow and doesn't scale.

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