2 wrongs don't make a right
For a generation we've wrung our hands and wondered why so few women have taken up careers in technology. Could it be, as Harvard President Lawrence Summers publicly mused 15 years ago, that women just don't have the brains for such analytic tasks? (That gaffe cost Summers his job.) Or perhaps those hobbyist "microcomputers", …
Sure equality is great, it is what we should aspire to. But if there are few women in the higher echelons of the tech world due to past discrimination, where are you going to get enough qualified women to be CEOs and sit on boards in anything approaching equal numbers?
If you want a meritocracy that appoints the best qualified person regardless of sex to those positions, because the pool you are choosing from is overwhelming male, those top positions will continue to be overwhelmingly male. Because women choosing what to study in college and what career path to pursue after college will see the tech world dominated by men at the top, they are less likely to pursue that field if they have aspirations of being in a leadership role themselves someday. How many generations are you willing to wait for the problem to take care of itself on its own?
Fire this articles author and replace him with a woman. The people who write these articles want the sexism against men being aimed at the new hires. Not at themselves.
This isn't merely discrimination against men but discrimination against young and innocent men in particular who are to pay the price for sexism they will never had a chance to perpetrate on account of having never had a job.
This is an interesting time for women's rights. They gained the right to vote in the 60s, they are now gaining the right to be respected.
Or for the UK, 1928. But the old saying goes, respect has to be earned. If women are promoted over men, that's tokenism and would breed resentment rather than respect. It would also arguably be illegal and discriminatory because there are after all, equal rights.
But such is politics. Equality shouldn't mean boards are 50:50 male/female but that men and women can have equal ability, and should have the opportunity to serve on those boards. Those posts should be filled based on merit, not gender. If rights are equal, it shouldn't matter how the gender balance falls out because the best candidates are selected regardless of gender.
But that also assumes the selection process is really gender neutral, not run by the OBN. Over time, things should balance out, but challenges start with the education system. So if few women are doing STEM subjects, it's hardly a suprise if they're 'under represented' at senior levels. If students are 50:50, then over time, there should be equal opportunities to progress their careers.
There is something to be said for selection of candidates without prior knowledge of attributes that are irrelevant to the job, but could be used against them according to prejudice.
Meritocracy is definitely the way forward for the human race, but implementing it is not the easiest challenge in the world.
It is, however, something we should be focusing a lot more effort and energy on, imnsho.
Sort out how to implement a true meritocracy and the need for knee-jerk responses to 'level the playing field' simply goes away.
"When I taught computer science some of my best students were women"
Yes, and when I worked in physics research there were about equal numbers of brilliant post-docs of both genders, despite the majority of post-docs being guys. In ecology research there were more female post-docs than male, but the proportions of brilliant post-docs was again about equal.
One of the unnoticed problems that might contribute to the current imbalance is the shallowness of our general exposure to "technologies" - we're encouraged to be primarily passive consumers of complex technical artefacts created by supposedly smarter magicians, delivered on the basis that you don't need to know how it works, just use it (aka toys).
I've spent many years trying to reverse the trend by creating simple but useful digital systems that users can understand and build for themselves, but it's always been an uphill struggle. The high integration black box modules still dominate the market and the funding. 99% of crowd sourced electronics projects are in the too complex to understand category for the young folks we would hope to engage with and inspire to become engineers.
There's a noticeable progressive decline in the median quality of electronics hardware and software, which may at least in part derive from the building blocks now considered the norm being too complex and abstracted. We're increasingly relying on the equivalent of flat pack assembly that sidesteps (and thus does not inculcate) understanding of principles.
Whilst I appreciate the sentiment, women have always had the right to be respected. I've been in IT for over 30 years when I started 30% of the team or more were female this has dropped and dropped and I'm now surprised when i come across a female dev. The proportion is higher in long established teams but the I don't see a lot of new blood coming through.
I think we have a cultural issue which ends to be addressed. This is only my experience and I'd love to be wrong but young male dev teams seem to get very 'blokey' and end up creating a hostile environment for women. I feel that us older members of the tech community need to help foster a more inclusive environment by example. I've tried to do this with as couple of teams but it does mean you need to sit down with the guys and point out how their behaviour appears. I've had variable success with this approach, some teams are genuinely shocked that they might appear hostile and are happy to dial it back, others just complain that women need to grow a thicker skin. The latter attitude needs challenging if we are going to improve the situation. I personally find a more diverse team (including ethnicity and sexuality as well as gender) tends tp be a kinder, more caring environment with in built support for team members. It doesn't mean they don't have to meet tight deadlines or work the stupid hours we all do during project deadlines. It does mean that as a manager you might get someone warning you when a team member is struggling before they burn out
I agree. I've had more female managers over the years than male managers, working in IT. But over the last decade or so, the numbers of female IT employees has dropped off sharply at the companies where I have worked.
In my first job, in the late 80s, I would guess 30% - 40% of the IT employees at the site where I worked were female and they made up over 50% of management grades at the time. At the last software house I worked at, the number of female managers was 1, from about 10 in total.
The last couple of places I was at, there were only a couple of IT staff, although at my previous employer, my replacement is female.
I've always found the casual metasexist allegations that man are just mistreating women and that's why they avoid the field being used to justify broad sweeping workplace discrimination against men baffling.
What is it about Men in tech which makes them so uniquely offensive to women unlike men in other fields to the point women avoid the field? I've never quite been able to figure it out. It just comes off as a post-hoc rationalization for sexist policy.
What is it about Men in tech which makes them so uniquely offensive to women unlike men in other fields to the point women avoid the field?
There doesn't have to be anything which makes them uniquely offensive. This is, however, a website which concentrates on technology, so understandably they are going to write articles which discuss the problem in technology rather than in other fields. If this was a website which focussed on teaching you would find articles worrying about the bias towards women in the profession and the dangers of that and how to positively discriminate towards men.
Bias in technology matters a lot, however: we all spend increasing amounts of our time using systems built and maintained by technology companies, and if the people who build those systems are biased against or in favour of certain groups then the systems they build probably will be, too. If Facebook, for instance, was controlled by people who thought having sex with goats was OK, we'd worry, wouldn't we? Well, it's not, but it may be controlled by people who have other biases, and that's worrying as well.
I suspect that, in fact, gender bias in technology is particularly severe. We know for instance that the number of female CS graduates has fallen by approximately a factor of two since 1985, so something is actively driving them away, and that thing started happening in the mid 1980s. This hasn't happened, for instance, in physics, where the rate of female physics graduates rose steadily from 1985 to the mid 2000s before falling back a little (however the rate of female graduates was lower than in CS for most of this time). I'm not going to speculate on what the thing is that is driving women away from CS.
"This is only my experience and I'd love to be wrong but young male dev teams seem to get very 'blokey' and end up creating a hostile environment for women."
In the 1980s I was a member of a city planning and development computer mapping group.the only woman out of about a dozen guys, A woman in a related department said, "how can you stand working there? It's like walking into a men's room." Being blessed with a gift for sarcastic repartee, I found that I got accepted only when I pushed back on the worst of the sexism, ignored most of it, and was more productive than most of the rest of the team. The pay was good, the guys individually decent, with one hostile exception, (he was a bit of dead weight that the other team members just tolerated) but the constant background sexism was like having a cold that won't go away, not completely hampering,but a drain on energy and an annoyance.
I wish that men who do not see the problem would get transferred to a 90% woman department, and deal with hearing complaints about other men, frank appraisals of their attributes, discussions of menstrual periods, and the like.
Is that the same or different to "inheriting the sins of the father"? Because I can understand that.
For example, my father's father used to beat him as a child, and my father sometimes beat my elder brother, even though it wasn't his true nature - but when people are put under a lot of stress and pressure they tend towards the things they learnt as a child, regardless of their 'conscious' wishes.
I've also read that abused children often go on to be abusers themselves. Same thing.
That's how I see it anyway.
You may not like the solution presented, but head-in-the-sand time is over. Not just for this, but for a multitude of issues. If you don't like it, present your own solution.
I had really hoped that my generation would be the forward looking, outreaching, progressive, inclusive, liberal generation. It didn't happen, but when I see now people pushing against entrenched beliefs of those in power and striving to force change for the better, I am encouraged. When I see comments like this, I see people who got where they are on the status quo, and are scared.
I see fear in the House of Commons. The current shower of a parliament are behaving more and more like parliaments of old, rabble rousing, cheap points scoring and shouting over one another. There is no sensible, measured discourse any more, there is no democratic process. They fear that the people will (and imo should) throw them all out at the next election, so revert back to what they know.
Change is coming, one way or another. Some will like it and some won't but we are long past the point where ignoring our societal issues is an option.
In the specific case of women in business and employment (for I don't see it as specifically a tech issue) changing attitudes is only right. How we change those attitudes, how we correct the imbalance that currently exists, I don't yet know. But I do know it should be corrected and ignoring those presenting solutions will only mean that you get a result you definitely don't agree with.
I was privileged enough (if you see it that way) to have been born male, but I don't see why my daughter shouldn't have the same advantages I had.
How many men support the girl and don't mock her?
The ones who don't feel their position of power is threatened by a prominent environmentalist for a start. I can only guess at their motives, however my I would say that one is backed very heavily by oil companies and the other made a career out of being controversial while getting gooey-eyed over a V8 engine.
I'm not saying every man mocks her, I'm saying the ones who do, do so because they feel threatened.
I don't. She is a clueless child with empty words that ignore the gravity of any solution that would take her seriously (e.g. the destruction of the World Economy, etc.). I mock her abusive parents for subjecting this child to public puppetry (and she is also on the autistic spectrum so easy prey to manipulators). I find it astonishing that people cannot see the clear parallels with Islamic radicalisation - brainwashed kids being used by dark forces.
I keep hearing this yet I don't at all believe it's true in the least. I have not seen anybody chastised for simply disagreeing with her. I've mostly seen people reamed out for attacking her as non-credible because she's a disabled teen, which is both an ad hominem AND offensive, followed by people whinging that by criticizing their ignorent ad-hominem attacks they're playing right into the hands of Greta's puppeteers.
Don't agree that autistic people are easy prey for manipluators. You have to be more specific. They're vulnerable to ignoring red flags and desperately seeking out friendships that are abusive.
In other more profound ways they're incredibly hard to manipluate. They're just stubborn and unswayed by manipluation that would affect other people. If Thunberg was easily manipluated her teachers would have been able to convince her to stop protesting and come to class back when she started all this by protesting through skipping school long before she sailed across the Atlantic. If Thunberg was as easy to manipluate as you think we wouldn't be talking about her.
Jeremy Clarkson has made a career out of being a professional asshole, and he's been a global warming denier for something like 20 years at a minimum, so it's not that surprising.
He and Trump have something in common, which is they won't still be alive when the chickens come home to roost. A short-term outlook is probably a natural result of a combination of selfishness and being near the end of your lifespan. Why sacrifice now if the benefits will go to other people?
A solution requires a problem. Is this a problem? As mentioned elsewhere females are not choosing (note that word carefully!) to do STEM and are choosing (note that word carefully!) to move from technical work (with little social interaction) to analysis/management work (with lots of social interaction). I don't think we need any solution where there is no problem in the first place.
"A solution requires a problem. Is this a problem? As mentioned elsewhere females are not choosing (note that word carefully!) to do STEM and are choosing (note that word carefully!) to move from technical work (with little social interaction) to analysis/management work (with lots of social interaction). I don't think we need any solution where there is no problem in the first place."
"Equality" should NOT mean equality of outcome, it should mean equality of opportunity. The countries with most equality of opportunity such as Scandinavian ones actually show more difference in outcome rather than less - because, exactly as you say, women CHOOSE different career paths than men.
On the other hand, part of that choice could (and probably is) based on reasons of feeling uncomfortable in certain environments, not feeling valued etc. So certainly alongside the choice, we need to remove barriers.
It's not too much to ask to treat women (especially, but not only, in the workplace) as people and not as sexual objects
My experience from 8 years in a DK IT company was that women (is that sexist as opposed to females?) tended to be overrepresented in middle management - group- and project managers. Was this choice? Don't know.
At my technical university in the late 80es there was from memory 20-25% female students - but for some reason it varied from less than 10% in mechanical and electronic to about half in chemical; civil was in-between.
OF course this ignores the non-binary's etc....
When I did my electrical & electronics degree in the late 80s our class of 40 had one lady. When I last taught it in the mid-2000s things had improved to about 4 out of 20, still WAY short of an equal blance. The problem of getting enough women in to STEM starts long before the workplace and technical education stages I'm afraid.
Yes you don't fight misogyny and sexism with more sexism.
Just treat everyone as equal. Whatever their gender ( + age, orientation etc.), if they can do the job better than everyone else, have compatible attitude and corporate culture, they should be considered. If not, it's ok to reject them.
The "attitude" and "corporate culture" aspects are usually where things come undone. Convenient excuse to reject applicants who "don't fit in". Suspect it'll take a couple of generations to filter that crap out.
But that's no reason to flip sexism to anti-male bias. Just eliminate sexism.
Mostly agree, hence my belief it'll take a generation or two to elminiate the aresholes who think it's ok to act that way. It starts with educating the yoof, but there'll be fossil diehards for many years yet. Plus douchebags tend to pass their douchbaggery onto their kids, adding a layer of resistance.
You still won't convince me that further discrimination of any flavour is the correct approach, though I fully respect your right to make that assertion.
That's how to ensure boys club fight to death to keep power - and how to destroy a workplace. Even people who never created problems with women will leave.
We already here have a big boss who is a woman - it's a cybersecurity division and she comes from a log career in... marketing... not that the man he replaced was better.
The issue is any woman placed in a position without the required competence and skill will never get respect by those below - and in some jobs respect is everything - you can't get people to work hard towards a target if they don't respect you, just saying "I'm your boss".
I worked very well with women ranked above me. They were competent, skilled women. No issue to be told what to do - I respected them a lot, I knew they knew what they were doing, and wish I had them at my actual company now instead of some men who are far worse to work for.
Ok so why arent there more males in marketing, nursing, HR etc. I worked in education for a while and that was ( where I worked) female dominated. I routinely saw women promoted over men ..purely because they were female. It cuts both ways. Women can ,and are, as sexist in some professions as men.
This is misguided because it assumes a) that the problem is related to the person being discriminated against, b) that only women are discriminated against.
The preference for women means less opportunity for gay men, disabled men coloured men, etc. either because it is a perfectly good excuse to say that their company is diverse (when it really isn't) and because there are less jobs available.
Diversity means just that, i.e. a lack of differences in peoples experiences and characteristics. Even when they have 50% male 50% female on the board, they will still be mostly straight , able bodied, white, and middle to upper class, and in Britain most likely went to the same schools. And also you will still see that the grounds and windows cleaner are men and that the secretaries, receptionist, and office cleaners are women.
"Why aren't there more female bricklayers? Do the same impediments apply?"
I think this where the comment in the article applies about the need to run for a generation tilted in the opposite direction. Classic barriers that have been around for too long will be the main reason we don't see more female "bricklayers", we have to spend time getting rid of those barriers and then seeing how many women want to be bricklayers before we can truly say that women aren't interested in being bricklayers, that all takes time.
We've started along the path of trying to remove those barriers (I think some sectors of industry need to try harder or at least start), provide more opportunities and eventually we will be closer to a more balanced workforce at all levels in regards to gender.
"Why aren't there more female bricklayers?"
a) because bricklaying (and construction jobs generally) tend to be physically demanding, messy and dangerous, and women generally are less physically strong and less willing to take risks / less stupid (delete as appropriate) than men.
b) because construction industry workmen tend to be very sexist (at least in the fairly small sample size to my knowledge)
Reason (a) and similair will exist for many jobs where more women or more men will be more attracted or less attracted to certain jobs. That is natural and choice of jobs that follows is to be encouraged. Reason (b) exists in many other jobs (eg traders), of which IT can be one, and is in any case to be discouraged
Why aren't there more female bricklayers? Do the same impediments apply?
In the late 70's I was working as a operator in a major bank's data centre. We had a number of openings when we expanded to a seven day shift operation. At this time all of the operations staff were male. The only women were in data entry or the tape library and they were day shift only. Management decided that we needed to get some women in the operations area. We had six applicants. All were capable so they were invited to try out. Two refused to lift the trays of cheques that we were required to move around, another two refused to lift cartons of computer paper and load them onto the printers. These 4 were immediately excluded. When a couple of them complained to the data centre manager he asked why they had been put through these tests. We pointed out that all shift staff could be required to complete these tasks at any time as part of their job. We were fortunate that the manager understood the situation. The two who were prepared to undertake these tasks were given jobs on the shift teams.
BTW - the guys coming into the operations area were put through the same tests. None ever refused the tasks.
I am quite fine with competing purely based on merit and effort.
I know that a lot of males in my industry have behaved in a way that allowed them to succeed in a way that does not correlate with merit and effort.
I understand the reaction to this that promotes the idea of enforcing a method for females to enable them to succeed in a way that does not correlate with merit and effort as a valid response.
I do not need to succeed beyond what I earn by merit and effort.
I also do not need to stick around in an environment that prevents me from being able to succeed in line with my merit and effort.
So maybe its time to create a new industry. There are enough mechanisms now to enforce anonymity while supporting the economic, informational and business transactions to support fully anonymised informational industries. Being fully anonymised, gender cannot become an issue.
Never had an issue in working for or with women, it's not an issue. Most I get on with, some I don't, just like blokes.Merit where it's due.
Having women around does seem to make guys behave in a bit more mature way, and maybe that's what some don't like. And there are certainly some men who just don't seem to able to abide having a women in control. Sad, weak, bastards.
The whole idea of "Please be nice so WE can be the merciless rulers and give YOU a hard time, so give us the power 'K?" is fundamentally flawed.
Either you beat people at their own game. This is fine but if you choose this path then don't expect sympathy or support from anybody and PLEASE don't occupy the moral high ground. If you chose this path, you want you (or your group) to be in charge instead of them. Nothing more, nothing less. It's simply a zero-sum game.
The other way is to turn the other cheek, playing nice and sometimes being on the loosing end but nonetheless being morally right. It means to be "the better man" as a woman, it means to focusing on the doing the right things instead of attacking the wrong things. It means being the change you wish to see in the world. Why not running your own company and preferring women instead of men and show the world how cool you are? Why not making your own inclusive open source project which is way better and driven by more passion instead of nagging about other projects and their wording?
Personally I think the latter is the more rewarding way: Lead by Example and let people decide what they want.
I don't believe the underlying issue has anything to do with aptitude, simply because most of the women I've worked with in tech are actually in the superior category - mostly because they've had to be to compete with the men in the 'competent' category (mostly for many of the reasons outlined by the article).
No, the real problem is confidence. Most of the women I've met rely on others to supply their confidence, whereas there are a much higher proportion of men who obtain their confidence from an over-inflated ego - not something most women possess.
These observations are, of course, generalizations and don't apply to every individual, but the lack of confidence will inevitably lead to being less pushy (promotions/pay-rises etc.).
So, even if the entire industry re-gears itself to promoting women candidates over men, over time this will swing back to men in charge - UNLESS the women source their confidence from within, rather than without.
Going anon for this one as it could easily be interpreted as being sexist, which I'm not.
I didn't say one should always be on the losing end, did I?
But let me put it like this:
Criticizing is cheap, building things is hard.
Naturally you will "win" 10/10 times if you are only nagging about the way things are:
Either you change things then you are a winner. Or you can't change things then "the empire" won once again which makes your "resistance" even more relevant.
See? You can't lose.
But if you start to build thing then you're exposing yourself. You will fail and you'll get criticized. You will often be on the losing end, but on the hand you really can make a change instead just lying to yourself.
It's important to realize that there will always be injustice, one way or another. But it doesn't have to be the "we against them" view (in social psychology this is called "ingroup vs outgroup"). There is no secret new world order boys club. There are some idiots around, that's all.
If one holds, as a basic principle, that the government may not inflict any injustices directly, then the fact that there are pre-existing injustices in the real world, while unfortunate, can only be remediated by measures that cannot possibly inflict any injustices themselves (and it must be possible to prove that). Of course, that principle slows the progress of disadvantaged groups to full equality, which is why there's currently an acrimonious debate around whether or not it should continue to be observed.
The ideal situation, of course, is when the economy is working so well that there are good jobs for all qualified applicants, so that ensuring those from a previously discriminated-against group have opportunities doesn't shut anyone else out. Governments have not been doing their job to restore normal economic conditions (those of the 1948-1968 post-war boom), and so they shouldn't be surprised the electorate is now rancorous and is putting demagogues in office. They should have prevented that by doing their job in the first place.
It's not as if any laws of physics would have to be violated to achieve this; we can first go on a binge building a vast number of breeder reactors, and then we will be able to produce enough energy to sustain any level of economic activity likely to be desired.
One of the problems stems from the school years. I have taught in a number of co-ed schools and despite best efforts of some excellent teachers, getting 'girls' to take an interest in computing is challenging to say the least. Almost always we recruited a significant number of boys and one or two girls.
When queried why they weren't interested, it was usually one of two reasons. My friends aren't doing it, and for those who were able to break the strong bond of peer pressure, there are too many boys on the course. There is also some interesting research (which annoyingly I can't remember where I saw it) which indicates that at school age, boys are more interested in the logical side of education (engineering, physics etc) and girls are more interested in the social angle (e.g. geography, history). Though a bit of a generalisation, it did tend to be broadly true in my experience.
Interestingly when we did manage to get a girl to take computing, they were usually much better than their male peers.
Exceptional student compared with majority is better, shocker
If your exception was interested and felt rewarded by the subject then OFC they are going to do better but I am betting that they still did not take it up as a career since there are many other careers that use the same skills that pay better and do not require you to carry incompetent as your equal/better.
You have to really love IT to take it as a job rather than the other careers using logic/mathematics where they pay more and are not targetted by politicians and other attention seekers.
It is hardly surprising that IT is increasingly being outsourced to countries that do not have this interferrance, where IT employers take on their staff based purely upon their ability.
I would suggest that they do not produce a greater number of female IT Technicians/Engineers than without segregation. Yes females get better exam results here but again this could be because the schools prevent the inferior from taking exams they are going to fail.
Lots of politicians are getting paid due to the general belief that there should be more women in IT than want to do it, so unless you are going to force them then all this is a waste of time and money that could have been used for something that would actually make the world a better place.
"It's this ugly secret, now come to light, that tells us – at the very heart of the community of scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who have built the 21st century – a secret society excluding women openly flourished."
Take out "women" and insert, say, "people from a working class background", or "not a billionaire" and the whole thing becomes more apparent as simply elites being elite. There is much more injustice than simply that women weren't there.
Obviously anyone who chooses a career in tech shouldn't be judged on anything but merit. So if an organisation genuinely has a boys club culture, that needs to be stopped. Personally I haven't seen examples of that in the Dev teams I have worked in, over my 10 years. Other departments like sales, have a much more alpha male culture, but yet there are a lot more women in sales than dev.
The phsycology resarch is pretty clear that interests are not evenly distributed by gender. Of course there are women who have interests that match a career in tech. The science shows there are just less of them than in the male population. I think we need to accept that having an equal distribution of jobs between the genders is not going to be achieved if people are allowed free will.
Positive discrimination won't solve that. It will however create resentment and ultimately undermine the people it proports to help.
I do also wonder where's all the initiatives for male midwives and female bin collectors? The media's narrow focus on women in tech does seem a little disingenuous.
You can't make people take jobs they're not interested in, and it does seem that percentage-wise males are more interested in tech jobs than females are, which means the percentage in the work force will not be the same as in the population at large. There is nothing wrong with this.
What is needed is equality of opportunity. That starts with ensuring that anyone with an interest is encouraged to pursue it, and yes, that probably does mean a shift in techy culture to make it more welcoming.
For a generation we've wrung our hands and wondered why so few women have taken up careers in technology.
Then follows essay about the proportion of women on boards of directors.
What has that got to do with "technology"?
How many of the men on those boards have any technical ability at all?
or does " a career in technology" mean studying Business and Economics at a private school and then finding yourself a £150k a year directorship at a big company where you later find out , that down on the shop floor what the minions are actually doing is in the "tech" sector , and possibly you should look up the term so as not to embarass yourself at society parties?
How many of the men on those boards have any technical ability at all?
or does " a career in technology" mean studying Business and Economics at a private school and then finding yourself a £150k a year directorship at a big company where you later find out , that down on the shop floor what the minions are actually doing is in the "tech" sector , and possibly you should look up the term so as not to embarass yourself at society parties?
I think it depends on the business, and is a large part of creating opportunities and professional development. So in a tech company, an employee starts at the grunt level as a 'do-er'. Here's a project, here's your piece of it, get crunching. Then progress to team leader & pick up more personnel and project management skills, team skills, budgeting etc. Then it's probably a project lead, which means more project management & budget skills, and moving away from hands-on tech work. You have to know what's possible, but it's more important to know how to delegate to turn possible into product.
So that starts to map out skills needed for progression, so tech, project management, financial management and developing those people skills to get stuff done. So employers should be able to identify candidates, send them on Prince2 or PMP courses, maybe an MBA and groom them into succession plans. Problems tend to arise when 'senior' staff are brought in because they have the right tickets, but don't understand the technology or the business.
At the top, that can get even more problematic given there'll be exec and non-exec members, and some of those people will be appointed by investors.. Or the OBN where non-execs seem to collect board positions based on political connections rather than aptitude. But sensible businesses should look at promoting within the company, especially given the investment already made in their employees.
Research also shows women already experience imposter syndrome at far higher rates than men. Now imagine how things will go with overt and widespread quotas.
Karl Marx was spot on with his diagnosis of the problems created in Europe in the 19th century by capitalism. However, experience has shown his radical cure to be extremely harmful on balance, and this is all too common. Easy to see the problem, hard to find a fair solution. There's no question there is a long standing distortion in opportunity and reward between the sexes, fostered and maintained by the patriarchy (that continues, and is embraced/supported by some women, even today). It is extremely difficult to right historical wrongs; that also applies to colonialism, slavery and wrongful convictions.
I'd support a biased approach in education, training and opportunity for women to enter the corporate or technology arenas, but I think arenas should remain level fields. More training and armour, not a spear to the leg of the competitors.
Has always been troublesome; where discrimination occurred due to government policies (as was the case in South Africa as but one example) then some action seems reasonable and appropriate but not all cases are quite so clear cut.
The other problem is that so-called 'reverse discrimination' remains discrimination regardless of the (usually) good intent behind it although as the proverb says (in its modern form) The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
In the context here, the problem is that the proposed solution will (in many cases and not necessarily correctly) lead to females who gain promotions being viewed as having got there not because of their abilities but by being given an advantage (and therefore seen as a token hire). This simply demeans those women who have made it to the top by dint of their hard work and qualifications.
In the UK, such action is generally illegal when done deliberately (there are some exceptions) and in one case, the judge said "while positive action can be used to boost diversity, it should only be applied to distinguish between candidates who were all equally well qualified for a role" (source), a view I think is reasonable (see previous paragraph).
The reasons for the levels of representation are complex (I do not deny that the Epstein club did indeed engage in such conduct but it is difficult to be able to pin everything on such clubs).
When it comes to tech, I have met females who were far superior to many of their peers (regardless of sex) and in those companies were advanced accordingly; when they are not advanced accordingly is where the problem lies. Two of my directors of engineering (at large multinationals) have been highly qualified women.
At one company (in Florida in the 90s) the director of operations was clearly and openly misogynist so when a newly open position (which could be a promotion) came up, I took the relevant details of all the candidates and anonymised them (I left in all relevant information); they were simply listed as candidate A, B, C and so on. I did this with the blessing off the CEO (who was aware of the problem).
In the end, a female got the job as a supervisor based on her clearly better qualifications for the position. (One of the males in the department said he would never work for a woman and was told to not let the door hit him in the ass on the way out). The director of operations was fuming but there was little he could do.
So it is not an easy problem to solve, but there is no one size fits all solution; as H.L.Mencken once said "Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong".
(H.L.Mencken is not everyone's cup of tea but there is no denying the influence he had as a writer).
I know of a number of armed service units where the ships company was replaced (100% from the captain down and dispersed among other ships in the fleet) where rampant personnel issues existed and it worked; whether that would work in a company is difficult to know.
Why is The Register posting this sexist idiocy? Why the attack on 'boys clubs' and not the multiple corporate funded Women in Technology groups that promote only one gender?
Women show far greater in-group bias than men, multiple attempts to remove gender from technology job interview processes have resulted in worse outcomes for women (demonstrating that existing processes favour them), politicians are continually pushing for gendered laws that favour women (e.g. the current Domestic Violence bill going through Parliament that expressly demands that the law recognises women's issues despite 40% of victims being male) and the education system is so horrifically gender biased that in a decade "must have a degree" jobs are going to be dropping that requirement because they won't be able to find qualified applicants.
Already single women under 40 earn more than single men, women working part time earn more than men working part time and women that don't have children achieve career progress on a par with their male counterparts.
I'm perfectly comfortable working with and for competent people, and I truly don't give a fuck what gender they are. So focus on finding and promoting those people instead of pushing divisive identity politics. I find this article not just sexist and offensive but also insulting to the many capable women that I've worked with, who succeed on their merits and don't need condescending policies from ignorant men.
I think these campaigns fail when they make it about 'women'. Considering "Brockman hosted "Billionaire Dinners" through the 1990s and 2000s, events where the wealthy and powerful rubbed shoulders with the best and brightest. Yet, with very few exceptions, invitations to these events went to men of influence and power. " (my emphasis). The rich and powerful are invited to these things. If you are part of the wrong social class (especially in the UK) then you have virtually no chance regardless of your gender. By focussing on just women's lack of opportunity it breeds resentment amongst the many men who also have no opportunity to progress which in turn makes them less likely to be willing to support women in their fight against inequality in those areas of their life where gender bias really does make a difference. Inequality should be fought on behalf of the disadvantaged where ever it occurs regardless of people's gender (race, sexual orientation etc).
Beat me to it.
Its not just bias on gender, class, skin colour, "looks", all sorts of things come into it.
Some people will be knowingly sexist, racist, etc., others will have unconscious bias, but you will struggle to find someone without bias (they may well be unaware of it).
The classic example was orchestra auditions, as soon as auditions were done with performer hidden behind a screen (so judgement purely on musicality) - number of offers to women & minorities increased significantly.
.Even if bias reducing recruitment method used, there is the next issue of the general team culture, in a room full of rich ex public school boys a black female from a council estate won't feel 100% at ease (even if the males behaviour is impeccable)
Said as someone from a working class background with (non Southern UK) regional accent - often you see the look on someones face as soon as they hear your accent and know that "instant judgement" has kicked in.
Only when we start to fear the power of the "girls' nights out", when the fates of male colleagues get decided on a whim, will we begin to understand the scope of our error, how much has been lost — and how much will need to be repaid.
Oh please, you cannot be serious whenever All Below is Available .....
Only when we start to exercise and master the power of the "girls' nights out", when the fates of male colleagues get decided on a heavenly whim, will all begin to understand the scope of our powers which are so very much more than just what desire offers to fulfil with an inclusive conclusive mutually rewarding satisfaction, for then is everything else also Readily Available for Market Offerings.
I Kid U Not ‽ .
* SMARTR Red Light Territory for Other Not Real World Experiences ..... Private Intellectual Property Pads for Pandoran Pilots and Pirates ..... ESPecial CyberIntelAIgents
Okay, I admit we've jumped ahead a tad here, but because of what follows all of this, is it worthwhile to ponder and file away to secure memory for Future Recall and Present Reflection.
"We're beginning to see how an entire generation of women found their way forward in computer science effectively barred by misogyny at the highest levels."
Perhaps. But the second half of the sentence links to an article about Richard Stallman. First, I'm not sure whether "creep" and "misogynist" are wholly overlapping categories, and most of the chatter around Stallman has been about creepiness. Second, the article does not establish that he barred anyone from anything. Finally, what highest levels did he control? Not hiring in the Microsoft or FAANG world.
It's hard to put the blame solely on Richard Stallman, but there's a decided male bias in open source communities. There have been multiple studies showing the same code submitted under a male name was more likely to pass review than it was when submitted under a female name. I personally was on a cryptography-related mailing list where a woman complained the responses to her (very well-written) posts consisted mostly of requests to go out on dates.
As I have said before, there were a wide diverse bunch of people working in IT companies in the seventies and early eighties. Not just in terms of sexes but also in terms of attitudes, outlooks and in ways of going about doing their jobs and solving problems. Things have changed between now and then and the IT industry is a much more mono cultured, insular and a much less fun place to work. So what has changed?
In part it must have something to do with computer industry and the rise of the PHB, but I think it also has something to do with larger cultural changes and the increasing focus on fiscal targets in a globalised market. As others have said, it's complicated. But I do think that concentrating on one aspect of a person, their sex, is not very edifying.
People working as mounted policeman and orchestral conductors apparently have a preponderance of left handers. Is this a reason to castigate their recruitment policies and demand a pro-right handed policy? Professional athletes are disproportionately taller than the general
population (as in fact are company executives) . Should we demand equal height representation.
I know those are trivial and silly examples, but I also think that viewing the world through a lens where peoples sex is their most important, indeed their only characteristic of any note, is also silly.
Seeing the whole person and be more tolerant of their differences (not just their sex) would be a good place to start and reinvigorate the IT workplace.
There is one major reason why there are fewer women than men going into STEM and that is is the evolutionary pressure to have children. Having a child has a major interference with education and working. For a woman to be sufficiently established in a STEM career to be able to take time off for children usually requires delaying having children till after 25. In non-technical fields, the education is often shorter and a break in the career to care for children does not have as much impact.
For larger companies (>200 employees) having a creche/day care center can help women back into their career with minimum disruption but few companies provide such a facility.
In my first job on an electronics campus I suggested a day care centre to my HR manager because it was obvious 90% of the employees across all the factories were young females. Only about 1 in 50 engineers and technicians were female, but all the operators were (with their tiny little hands perfect for sewing gold thread) and all the HR staff (with their female capacity for faking empathy).
She ran with the idea and opened up a creche nearby and became a millionaire. My idea though, although I never earned a penny or even kudos from it.
Later, a half mile away, I came up with VoIP, and thought, "This will make for a fun office joke." Kind of scunnered when Skype sold to Microsoft for a billion.
A mostly male environment is hostile and uninviting to females. In my 1986 class there was one female electronics student, and she was always one of the two students pulled out of class to do college publicity, which she hated but went along with to encourage future female students.
The workplace was incredibly sexist then, like nude calendars on walls, but the few women engineers in the workplace were treated fairly decently. Things seemed to get better into the '90s, almost too PC - I recall my boss being told to remove an innocuous photo of a girl band from his cubicle. And then things got worse again, not just in the workplace but in society. I blamed 'lads mags' but internet porn probably had a bad effect too. Then in the 2000s things got much worse, the whole Gamergate / entitled InCel 8Chann misogynist mob mentality.
The best ten software engineers I've worked with are female. The fewer hardware female engineers I've known were okay, average, but less successful. I guessed that is a bias to soft and hard but that's superficial. In my youth women got taught at school how to touch-type, so they could be secretaries. Typing is a key skill in coding efficiently. Of course a brain that can process logic and maths is essential, but those skills aren't dependent on gender.
One female boss laughed at me looking at the keyboard when I typed - she could churn out a perfect screen of text in the time it took me to complete a paragraph. I explained to her though that was the speed my brain worked at, I was thinking it through as I was typing it and there was no use in typing faster than my brain worked. Hell, this has taken me half an hour to write.
The thesis of this article seems to be that men are jerks that should be viewed with suspicion. A dim recognition of being maligned results in a rash of odd counter arguments which pretty much confirm the thesis. Well Done!
I have spent 30+ years in software, in companies ranging from very small to quite large. Consistently, these work environments have been toxic, not just for women, but especially for women. Studying the phenomena could keep loads of evolutionary biologists occupied for decades., How do they manage to reproduce?
During the 1990s, when "don't ask don't tell" was the closest the US could come to a decent strategy for managing sexual diversity in its armed forces, I couldn't come to grips with the issue at all. I thought that an advantage of having a sexual orientation unaligned with the expectations of the military was that you could avoid military service. Why would anyone, regardless of orientation, do that?
I feel the same about women in tech. The tech industry is awful; why would you want to work with these people? Cave-dwelling INCEL idiot savants that think they are masters of the universe. Lock em in a room, slide pizza under the door, and turn on the sprinklers every couple of weeks.
I think that’s a very good idea. I am fed up of working in all male teams. We have twenty-five team members and only one, in India, is female. That’s ridiculous. When I did IT at Leicester Poly in the early 80s, we had two women out of sixty students and they both dropped out. Pah! It seems to me to be the parents and teachers that are mostly to blame. My 7-year old daughter is going to be an engineer or similar, I hope. She has a doll, some pink stuff but several construction sets which she loves, two railway sets, model dinosaurs, cars, aeroplanes, guns and is learning to code. Come on you parents, get your daughters sorted out.
"Come on you parents, get your daughters sorted out."
My first love went on to become a published, respected molecular biologist. What first attracted me to her was she was so much more confident than I, or anyone else, was. She admitted recently she wasn't confident at all, but each day when she went to school her mum would hold her by her shoulders and say to her, "Remember. Pretend to be confident." That is a tip to 'sort your daughters out' - eventually you are what you pretend to be, and confidence is a concrete foundation.
My mum told me not to get in fights, and my dad told me not to lose fights. Not such good advice.
It's notable that girls go into biology and boys go into physics, generally. It's akin to the hardware / software gender divide. You can also divide biologists according to intelligence - the party girls go into marine biology, the median go into micro biology, the smartest go into molecular biology.
I've carved out my own niche because I was never on the most recommended victims list.
How many Decades have we given Women and Minorities advantages over straight white males?
I've done ok and will be out of the maze soon but what I see around me is sad...Identity Politics, who would have think it?
When you seek to remedy by imposing the same bias you are fighting you lose.
Most women in big tech are business people anyways, the same people that cheered for Steve Jobs....get me?
.....I ran an interview process, only one in twenty of the resumes received were women. We interviewed every one of them on the basis of gender alone. Unfortunately, the other 95% of the pile yielded better candidates. It is not for lack of trying by the interview team. It is for want of hiring the best person, regardless of gender or other legally protected characteristic.
When you have bias working for you then why would you need experience, knowledge or qualifications, hell you don't even have to wear a suit.
One more reason that you don't see as many women in the field, they don't want to be tarred with the same brush as the ones that snuck in the back door
Like many articles of this type, there is confusion between actual discrimination and politically motivated synthesis of discrimination. The “equality of outcome” proposed by the author indicates that the latter is the case here. Jumping on the Epstein bandwagon is all the proof needed!
The facts are that less females enter university to do subjects such as computer science, and this has always been the case. The question is why ... in my experience with 18 year old kids, it is amazing how few female students show any interest at all? - despite all manner of interventions to try to get them interested.
Until we see 50% of the tech population being female, we shouldn’t be expecting 50% of leadership to be female either. Attempts to force this outcome will cause resentment amongst people who are driven by logic and mathematics - they are not interested in or impressed by virtue signaling or political correctness, just logic.
Just think how much progress would be made if computers were programmed with virtuous statements and politically correct syntax and not with logic!
It’s time to be logical not emotional about the motives of the extreme feminist agenda being pushed by the hard left socialist “equal outcome” brigades.
The proponents of equality if outcome never seem to be able to answer the dimensions question. If you want to somehow mandate equal numbers of (in this case) IT workers/managers/executives then why stop the equalization at just gender. What about ethnicity and gender. What about age , ethnicity and gender. What about height, social background, marital or child caring status weight, hair colour ,etc etc.. the list is almost endless.
Basically you end up at the individual.which, let's face it, is what you want. In any company , organisation , you should try to recruit, retain and promote the best ( most suitably skilled, adapted and competent) person... regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation..whatever.
But of course that means you cant write virtue signalling articles to increase your standing in your own small peer group.
Equality of opportunity should be the goal and not equality of outcome. However, if you have that that you need to accept that in many cases males and females will make very different choices and that those choices may not always mean a 50-50 distribution
One other point...why would anyone think.having females as managers and executives be any way different. Take a look at what Ginny is doing at IBM. No different to all her male predecessors...Maybe worse.
Youll just destroy the West's ability to compete with sane societies that don't shackle their productivity like that.
Want more women at the top?? That is a goal worthy for you? great! teach your children to be ambitious and not want participation trophies.
How many times must we repeat those mistakes? why won't the writer learn from the Scandinavian experiment? the more they forced Women to be like Men, the stronger the lash back got.
The only reason you get carping like this is because these jobs are perceived as good and high paying so they're desirable. If they were something more unpleasant -- like old fashioned coal mining -- then you'd see a lot less pressure for gender equality.
The awful truth about 'good paying STEM jobs' is that they require rather a lot of work to prepare for. You can't just do a few courses at school and then step into them, you have to do a lot of external preparation. Traditionally -- a couple of generations ago -- boys would have had the inside track because the impressing of gender roles at home and school would have put all but the most dedicated and talented girls at a disadvantage (the boys would be fixing stuff and doing hobbies like making radios, the girls would be playing house in one form or another). This sort of stereotyping is long behind us but it doesn't mean that all girls are about to be programmers -- its more likely that (as in the town where I live) they'll be far more interested in biotechnology. They wouldn't be doing this a generation or so ago because the technology and the jobs just didn't exist (well, they did, but we called it 'brewing' and it wasn't quite as scientific).
I'm glad to be retired these days so I don't have to put up with this kind of workplace politics. Its actually been going on for ever -- pushy people who are at best second rate but manipulative enough to find angles to advance their personal agenda (its gender neutral as well). Its part of office life but with the new twist of finding some kind of discrimination that allows you to claim a place that you're not really entitled to. Real talent shines through this crap and its appreciated regardless of the gender, orientation and general shape and size of the person.
Inevitably someone is going to claim that, well, women may just be innately less predisposed to be good at technology. This claim is not supported by the evidence. A good way to see this is to look at statistics for Computer Science degrees.
In 1984/85 37% of CS degrees in the US were granted to women. In 2010/11 18% were. Both these figures are for the US I think. So, in 26 years – approximately one generation – the proportion of women being awarded CS degrees halved. It's not the case that CS has become vastly more technical or anything like that since 1985.
What this means is that whatever drove this collapse in numbers is not innate predisposition, because changes in innate predisposition occur over evolutionary timescales, which are quite a lot longer than 26 years, to put it mildly. So some other factor or factors has driven women away from CS between the mid 1980s and today.
A second conclusion from this is that, unless you assume that there was very significant positive discrimination towards women in CS in the middle 1980s, which seems very unlikely to me (and I was working in computing academia in the late 1980s), the 'unbiased' proportion of women in CS is probably something greater than 37%: in other words, it's very likely that there's no significant difference in innate predisposition between women and men at all.
[A slightly second-hand source for the numbers I quote above is here.]
Yep. I met my then-wife on a Computing Science course - she was actually doing a "higher" course than me, I was doing some micky mouse CompSci undergraduate degree that left my brain turning to cheese, she was doing an IT Masters, but was actually doing real proper programming stuff, her final project was an interactive CPU emulator/disassembler/single-stepper. (My course should have been called IT, her course should have been called CompSci, but that's a rant for another day.)
She then used her degree and programming expertise to parlay her way into a top-level Social Worker post. So even if you do bulldozer 50% of girls into programming, just expect it to result in them going into non-tech jobs afterwards, and there to be calls demanding that tech graduates be forced into tech jobs.
As a white male, I have had trouble getting job interviews. I've actually had a manager tell me that he wasn't ALLOWED to consider me for an interview until they had looked at "diversity candidates". The fact that I am male doesn't mean this isn't sexual discrimination. The fact that I am white doesn't mean this isn't racial discrimination.
How about actual, proper equality, where everyone is evaluated based on technical skill, communication ability, and the ability to work civilly with others? We should fix these discrepancies, not by adding a different discrimination, but by changing the culture to make such discriminations - in any directon - unacceptable to the general populace. Note that "ability to work civilly with others" would include treating everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of gender, race, etc - an applicant CAN be judged on their decisions on how they treat others.
to my astonishment, the author of this is male. Thank you, sir, for getting it. I am at retirement age, but ran into this sort of thing, overt and covert, for the time I was in corporate life, and in financing and networking my own business later. I don't think that reverse discrimination is the correct answer, but calling out the common or garden variety discrimination and the mindset that underpins it will be an ongoing task for the next generation. #Me too does exist, and it spills over and colors every interaction in the business world.
Yup, Goes like that. I remember the first time corporate mowed me down as a high level professional woman. Walking into the doctors office to help with my PTSD, the Doctor didn't even know why I was there and I said... I am an Electrical Engineer, a PhD. He said from where. I said Cornell '1989... Without knowing anything he said... "Wow, you must have been through a hell of a shit". Yup. Yup! No more tears though.. just want someone to hire me for my expertise. Running from abuse leaves a woman without a network. Anyone seeing an accomplished woman in Engineering of the age of about 50 or 60, (outside corporate) and if she is smiling, which I am... Should probably whisper in her ear... Bravo! You must be amazing, is there any of your expertise that could fit into my business areas. :)
Do nurses and school teachers worry that there are not enough men in their professions?
Yes, they worry a lot. My brother is a teacher and very definitely people are alarmed that there are far more female than male teachers at primary school level, and that this is a bad thing for people being taught. There are schemes, mentioned in this gov.uk article, to encourage men to become primary teachers.
I am not so sure about nursing, but judging by this article it is certainly something people worry about.
Teaching in the United States was once considered a career for men. Then the profession’s gender composition shifted dramatically around the mid-19th century, when the country’s public-school system was born. In the mid-20th century, however, cultural and political shifts prompted a surge in the number of women seeking employment in traditionally “masculine” sectors.
Across the country, teaching is an overwhelmingly female profession, and in fact has become more so over time.
The NMC found that just 11.4% of registered UK nurses in 2017/18 were men – barely improving on the 2007/2008 figure of 10.69%. The gender divide gets wider in general practice with men making up just 2.1% of practice nurses, according to NHS Digital data (see graph, page 22).
Male nurses believe they are viewed as less caring both by wider society and some female nurses, Professor Whitford found in her paper, which also reviewed existing literature. She also cited research suggesting some men working in all-female environments can find it difficult at times, which may result in feelings of isolation.
I think Richard Nixon blew the lid off the 'good old boys' clubs with his (recorded) comments about the Bohemian Grove. A number of 'business leadership' retreats were quietly closed down when these remarks went public.
If they invited women, they'd be pretty lonely at some of those events.
"we will need a long period – at least a generation – where women are favoured over men for funding and promotion"
Straightforward positive discrimination a terrible idea. The best way to deal with people of one gender thinking people in another only got the job because they were in another gender person isn't to make the prejudiced people correct. And of course by rejecting talented members of the one gender for less talented members of another you are ensuring your company doesn't get the best talent and performs worse.
(I'm using "gender" in the middle english sense of "kind", "type", or "sort" here, because the same applies whatever group you are discriminating in favour of.)
There are ways to deal with inequality that don't have this drawback, or the problem of illegal discrimination
- employ the best people - if you do this the talent pool available to your company is bigger than the talent pool available to a hidebound competitor that still thinks that "those people aren't right for this type of work". Outcompete them, prove them wrong, and rejoice.
- remove identifying information from CVs/whatever before passing them to the potentially prejudiced person in charge of hiring. This has been shown to work in blind auditions for orchestras
- if you must mandate something, mandate interviews not outcomes - since the NFL mandated that at least one non-white candidate must be considered for a head coach job the diversity of head coaches has increased, but nobody got the job because of their race.
My problem with articles like this is the assumption that only one sub group of people are affected by preferential treatment. There's no doubt that certain groups have been discriminated against, but that discrimination isn't against a single target. The greatest con game played against the poor is to pit each group against each other, leaving the wealthy to laugh at us all.
No we should not start reverse discrimination based on gender, orientation, ethnicity, financial status, nationality, age or whatever other arbitrary factor pits one set of people against another.
Why should person be at a disadvantage for the rest of their working lives, just because people who look like them have committed injustices? That kind of reasoning promotes discrimination and anger, while those with the power and money just sit back and laugh as the people below them fight amongst each other.
Why can't we just have fairness? Make it a civil crime to not be fair. Fine companies that have been found to deliberately exclude individuals from promotion or other rewards when it can be clearly shown they favor one set of people over others.
All I hear when I see articles like this is another attempt to let the good old boys club continue as before. Because this article isn't a call to bring them to account for their actions. It's a call to let them continue as before, but instead of targeting women they get to choose another group to ignore.
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