Some Tech Bros Think Gender Equality Has Gone Too Far
September 23, 2017 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Mr. Altizer is part of a backlash against the women in technology movement. While many in the tech industry had previously dismissed the fringe men’s rights arguments, some investors, executives and engineers are now listening. Though studies and surveys show there is no denying the travails women face in the male-dominated industry, some said that the line for what counted as harassment had become too easy to cross and that the push for gender parity was too extreme a goal. Few were willing to talk openly about their thinking, for fear of standing out in largely progressive Silicon Valley.

Many men now feel like “there’s a gun to the head” to be better about gender issues, said Rebecca Lynn, a venture capitalist at Canvas Ventures, and while “there’s a high awareness right now, which is positive, at the same time there’s a fear.”

The backlash follows increasingly vulgar harassment revelations in Silicon Valley. Several female engineers and entrepreneurs this year named the men they accused of harassing them, and suddenly tech’s boys’ club seemed anything but impervious. Travis Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder, resigned as chief executive after the ride-hailing service was embroiled in harassment accusations. Dave McClure, head of the incubator 500 Startups, called himself “a creep” and stepped down. This month, the chief executive of Social Finance, Mike Cagney, also quit amid a harassment scandal.
posted by Bella Donna (158 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
Lesbian separatism is looking better and better.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:49 PM on September 23, 2017 [99 favorites]


I love that one of their signs that the push for gender equality is going to far is that women are heading up sections of Yahoo that cover things like cars, which women couldn't possibly know anything about. Yup. Gender equality is definitely out of control.

I really have no idea what you do about this. People are incredibly fragile when their privilege is challenged even the tiniest bit.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:54 PM on September 23, 2017 [126 favorites]


There's a political faction that is desperate to habilitate, to give a home to, James Damore.
posted by rhizome at 12:55 PM on September 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


As a woman in tech for the last 20-ish years, I gotta say - it doesn't have to be this way!
The company where I currently work (kinda rhymes with "wikipedia", but for travel) is actively working on eliminating bias of all kinds. For example, we textio to uncover unconscious bias in job descriptions. Many other steps are taken, but there are still issues, and will be so long as the tech-bro culture is allowed to flourish at other companies.
Kind of reminds me of the quote I saw this week: "When men imagine a female uprising, they imagine a world in which women rule men as men have ruled women."
posted by dbmcd at 12:55 PM on September 23, 2017 [117 favorites]


we textio to uncover unconscious bias in job descriptions.

what's "textio"?
posted by thelonius at 12:57 PM on September 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Why must we constantly elevate and spread the views of the worst among us instead of everyone who is trying to make the world a slightly better place?
posted by zachlipton at 12:58 PM on September 23, 2017 [25 favorites]


Travis Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder, resigned as chief executive after the ride-hailing service was embroiled in harassment accusations.

A reminder that the consequences for supporting sexual harassment are so dire that Travis Kalanick has been reduced to, uh, being on the board of directors of Uber. These guys are feeling deeply threatened by the fact that there are now modest consequences in the most egregious possible cases.
posted by Sequence at 1:01 PM on September 23, 2017 [56 favorites]


Textio is (from their website)
"...the augmented writing platform for creating highly effective job listings. By analyzing the hiring outcomes of more than 10 million job posts a month, Textio predicts the performance of your listing and gives you real-time guidance on how to improve it.
On average, hiring teams with a high Textio Score recruit 25% more people qualified enough to interview and 23% more women—and they do it 17% faster."
Part of their platform can analyze for gender/race bias.
posted by dbmcd at 1:02 PM on September 23, 2017 [27 favorites]


Hey James Altizer from Nvidia, maybe if you are so afraid of the HR "witch hunts" that feel like you have to talk in a soundproof room so your coworkers won't hear about how much you think The Women Are Ruining Everything, you SHOULDN'T BE TALKING ON THE RECORD TO A REPORTER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES. You'd think at 52 you'd understand this, but that wold imply some basic critical think skills.
posted by aspo at 1:03 PM on September 23, 2017 [93 favorites]


I'm so glad I never listened to any of my friends and acquaintances who tried to encourage me to go looking for work in Silicon Valley. The money wouldn't have been worth it. Every shred of evidence coming out of that sector of the IT market seems to confirm it as an incubator for the most brittle and defensive ideas about masculinity ever held. They have so much unearned confidence on the one hand but almost equal parts insecurity on the other and the cultish/faddish ways new ideas take hold there, yikes. Please don't imagine this culture is universal among IT workers. It seems to be unique to the valley with its campuses and college recruitment practices, some form of arrested development caused by the way those tech bros go straight from living within highly structured elite educational campuses to highly structured, all inclusive tech company campuses, which likely just feels like staying in college forever if that's your route through life.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:08 PM on September 23, 2017 [14 favorites]


As the OP, apologies if this seems like too dreadful to share but when I saw it I was all, WTF??? I have worked in Silicon Valley, although not as a techie, and I know things are/can be horrible. I just didn't realize it was bad enough that there could possibly exist a backlash. Which inspires tears from my bitter, bitter laughter.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:11 PM on September 23, 2017 [8 favorites]


He became interested in the community after a divorce

*eyeroll*

This is basically Altizer publicly daring Nvidia to fire his misogynist ass, isn't it? And his calculus is that either way he wins: they fire him and he becomes another Damore-esque men's-rights martyr; or they ignore him and he gets to claim their inaction as tacit support.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:16 PM on September 23, 2017 [43 favorites]


Can we crowdfund a Brohole Island for these self-sorters so they can get on with it?

I am getting impatient for them to complete their withdrawal to an all male all sexual harassment all the time Galt's Gulch.
posted by srboisvert at 1:16 PM on September 23, 2017 [66 favorites]


Welp, I guess when I build my next computer I'll be getting a Radeon GPU rather than a GeForce.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:20 PM on September 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


One radical fringe that is growing is Mgtow, which stands for Men Going Their Own Way and pronounced MIG-tow.
I guess we're just running through the subreddits now. /r/incels next?
posted by postcommunism at 1:23 PM on September 23, 2017 [7 favorites]


[Couple of comments deleted. MikeWarot, for your sake and everyone else's, please just skip this thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:30 PM on September 23, 2017 [15 favorites]


Lesbian separatism is looking better and better.

dream bigger, totalitarian gynocentric theocracy.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:33 PM on September 23, 2017 [52 favorites]


Just half an hour after I finished a tutoring session where I found out a CS grad school candidate had been rejected for gender-discrimination and age-discrimination reasons. And didn't fight it because she was too burnt out from all the previous times she'd had to fight that.

Turns out I know the professor responsible and am not surprised. This stuff is just pervasive in the field.
posted by traveler_ at 1:34 PM on September 23, 2017 [21 favorites]


teams like cars were headed by women, which to Mr. Parsons was a sign of problems.

“No eyebrows are going to rise if a woman heads up fashion,” Mr. Parsons said. “But we’re talking about women staffing positions — things like autos — where it cannot be explained other than manipulation.”
I want to make a joke here about how GamerGate was really Synecdoche, America but a) not just America and b) I've never seen the film.
posted by postcommunism at 1:34 PM on September 23, 2017 [12 favorites]


for fear of standing out in largely progressive Silicon Valley

lol wut
posted by Sys Rq at 1:40 PM on September 23, 2017 [38 favorites]


Having the confederate statue issue come up around the same time as James Damore was a good reminder that reconstruction efforts can fail and regression is always a possibility. It's not ridiculous to think that they'll be erecting Travis Kalanick statues in a decade or two.
posted by clawsoon at 1:40 PM on September 23, 2017 [12 favorites]


My dream is a society with all the genders (more than 2 that would be) happily mingling with zero toxic masculinity involved. Oh traveler_, your story makes me so sad, not least because it's far from unique. FFS
posted by Bella Donna at 1:41 PM on September 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


Honestly I'm kind of pissed at the NYTimes for being too "even-handed" in this article. Fucking glamor shots of James Damore.
posted by daisystomper at 1:41 PM on September 23, 2017 [47 favorites]


dream bigger, totalitarian gynocentric theocracy


DAVE SIM WAS RIGHT!!111!!!!ELEVEN!!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:44 PM on September 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


for fear of standing out in largely progressive Silicon Valley

lol wut


No kidding. I know someone who was luckily able to negotiate her way out of two big-name valley companies after her gender and age became glaringly obvious liabilities. As I was saying, FFS. If Silicon Valley were actually progressive maybe there would be more PoC outside of campus kitchens and dining rooms. Ditto the rest of the "progressive" SF Bay Area.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:45 PM on September 23, 2017 [25 favorites]


In case that seemed like a non-sequitur, I just mean that women have it hard, you betcha. And PoC have it harder.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:47 PM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, NEW YORK TIMES.

I clicked through fully expecting the faux-diffident "Some gentle, put-upon men are just trying to say..." bullshit that makes up much of the article, but the fashion shoot featuring James Damore in a baby blue shirt is making me physically ill. What possible good does it do to go to the trouble of shooting those images and including them alongside the (minimal, weak) questions raised here? Why do this? I mean, I know why, but WHY?

On preview: What daisystomper said.
posted by Anita Bath at 1:50 PM on September 23, 2017 [30 favorites]


daisystomper: Fucking glamor shots of James Damore.

That's not just any glamour shot. That's a Che-Guevara-on-a-tshirt glamour shot.
posted by clawsoon at 1:51 PM on September 23, 2017 [9 favorites]


Honestly I'm kind of pissed at the NYTimes for being too "even-handed" in this article

But it's so important for them to report on the "men's rights movement" and how it allows men to "talk about the issues they uniquely face." Even if some harassment "scandals" have been "increasingly vulgar".
posted by Ralston McTodd at 1:52 PM on September 23, 2017 [39 favorites]


In fact, I'll be shocked if that shot doesn't turn up on a t-shirt.
posted by clawsoon at 1:55 PM on September 23, 2017


I hate this. Not only do the men in this article get glamour shots, they also just..get names. Titles. Accomplishments. The women? Non-existent. They're just "woman who complained about XYZ". Passively existing as the nuisance that are causing these poor men to feel defensive.
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:56 PM on September 23, 2017 [136 favorites]


dbmcd: Kind of reminds me of the quote I saw this week: "When men imagine a female uprising, they imagine a world in which women rule men as men have ruled women."

Quote from the article: "There was no control over women hiring women."

That sounds like a complaint from a villain in a Margaret Atwood novel. "Do you remember the bad old days when women could hire other women with no control whatsoever?"
posted by clawsoon at 2:00 PM on September 23, 2017 [113 favorites]


Saulgoodman: "Please don't imagine this culture is universal among IT workers. It seems to be unique to the valley..."

It is so very NOT unique to the valley. It's everywhere. I've seen these attitudes in my CompSci College classmates, my Professors, and in my co-workers. Don't even get me started.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 2:07 PM on September 23, 2017 [64 favorites]


I mean. It's the reason I didn't do computer science. It was obvious and pervasive way back in the early 2000s, and it's possibly gotten even worse.
posted by schadenfrau at 2:09 PM on September 23, 2017 [11 favorites]


An earlier article from the same author: Women in tech largely unfazed by men's behaviour. Here's someone who digs deeply under the surface of things. [/sarcasm]
posted by clawsoon at 2:11 PM on September 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


you guys i think journalism - both tech specifically and in general - might have a leeeeeetle sexism problem
posted by PMdixon at 2:15 PM on September 23, 2017 [37 favorites]


“It’s a witch hunt,” [Altizer] said in a phone interview, contending men are being fired by “dangerous” human resources departments. “I’m sitting in a soundproof booth right now because I’m afraid someone will hear me. When you’re discussing gender issues, it’s almost religious, the response. It’s almost zealotry.”

Sucks, right? Can't squeeze your secretary's ass anymore, can't demand that a female subordinate suck your dick in exchange for a promotion, can't tell your female colleagues that they're not allowed to hire women, can't talk about how awful it is to work with or for women without getting a raft of shit for it, can't act like a drunken 20-year-old frat boy at the office. Life is so unfair - you work and you work and after all these years you're expected to act like an adult! A professional! Shocking.
posted by rtha at 2:17 PM on September 23, 2017 [91 favorites]


I wish this article was just the first paragraph followed by this one:
“In just the last 48 hours, I’ve spoken to a female tech executive who was grabbed by a male C.E.O. at a large event and another female executive who was asked to interview at a venture fund because they ‘feel like they need to hire a woman,’” said Dick Costolo, the former chief of Twitter, who now runs the fitness start-up Chorus. “We should worry about whether the women-in-tech movement has gone too far sometime after a couple of these aren’t regularly happening anymore.”
And then it could just end. Two paragraphs, that's it. Because that really makes the point: "some people think these things; here's why they're wrong." Or go on to profile and discuss the people who are trying to solve the problem instead of the ones causing it.
posted by zachlipton at 2:23 PM on September 23, 2017 [55 favorites]


I’m sitting in a soundproof booth right now because I’m afraid someone will hear me.

...he said, on the record, to a major national newspaper, in a quote with his name attached.

I really can't relate to the "please fire me, you vile oppressors" behaviour that this guy and Damore seem to revel in. It's like pseudo-martyrdom for the privileged who can fall back on making the conservative talk-show rounds and publishing a very angry book if they actually get fired.
posted by allegedly at 2:27 PM on September 23, 2017 [35 favorites]


where the fuck is the meteor already?!
posted by photoslob at 2:37 PM on September 23, 2017 [8 favorites]


The problem with the "witch hunt" complaints in this piece is that witches do not exist. Whereas pervasive discrimination against women (generally by men but also at times by women), which has been exhaustively documented as well as experienced, is thick in Silicon Valley. It's a Known Thing and getting more known (and boring) by the hour. And because journalists tend to be rewarded by man-bites-dog stories, there is absolutely a media bias toward telling "unexpected" stories as well as false-equivalency stories. So yes, this is a stupid story that should not have been reported nor published but am I surprised? Nope. Angry, sure. Are any of us surprised? I'm guessing no.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:48 PM on September 23, 2017 [35 favorites]


Please don't imagine this culture is universal among IT workers.

Well to the extent that this is a true statement (and that's a whole 'nother discussion) neither is it universal to Bay Area tech companies. But I think at this point most of us know "Silicon Valley" is less and less a geographical appellation.
posted by atoxyl at 2:51 PM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Boring by those who are not directly affected by it, I mean. News cycle, yadda yadda. Perhaps Nellie says in an edit meeting, "There's been so much about sexism in Silicon Valley lately. Wonder if there's resentment building. I'd like to check it out." Or an editor says it. And thus we get our Profile of the Tech Bros as Butt-Hurt Babies.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:51 PM on September 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


God, fuck the fucking New York Times for the tone they took in this story. These people are a fucking lunatic fringe and they're both-sidesing it. Seriously. This is a story I'd expect to read in Breitbart with only a couple of modifications.

I'd love it if these dummies moved to a men-only island and made a men-only internet and just left the rest of us alone. Good riddance.

I felt the "glamour shots" were actually really unflattering though? Kind of the best thing about the article. Their fan club won't notice it, I guess, but it seemed clear to me that the photographer made sure it was unmistakable how unattractive these guys are physically. Immature thing to take comfort in, I know, but in an article that mostly legitimized a "movement" in favor of openly harassing my peers and me, I'm glad at least to many readers, a big reason these men resent women couldn't be clearer...
posted by potrzebie at 3:14 PM on September 23, 2017 [27 favorites]


This fragility is hardly surprising. This is the same industry which claims that the treatment of rich people in America is similar to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany and that women should never have gotten the right to vote.

If black and Latinx people should ever get to be more visible in tech - which is unlikely to happen any time soon - you may rest assured that we will hear apocalyptic whining about that as well.

I feel sorry for women in tech - the industry constantly degrades, marginalizes, harasses, and abuses them with impunity, and then turns around and says any effort to put an end to this is the real problem.
posted by splitpeasoup at 3:24 PM on September 23, 2017 [24 favorites]


potrzebie: Their fan club won't notice it, I guess, but it seemed clear to me that the photographer made sure it was unmistakable how unattractive these guys are physically. Immature thing to take comfort in, I know, but in an article that mostly legitimized a "movement" in favor of openly harassing my peers and me, I'm glad at least to many readers, a big reason these men resent women couldn't be clearer...

Just the other day, I heard someone say that it's clear that feminist men are only feminists because they're ugly, fat men who can't attract a woman any other way. I can understand the appeal of applying the converse theory to MRAs, but I dunno if uglypolitical theory is either true or useful.
posted by clawsoon at 3:27 PM on September 23, 2017 [16 favorites]


"Please don't imagine this culture is universal among IT workers. It seems to be unique to the valley..."

Please don't tell women it's not. It is.
posted by winna at 3:47 PM on September 23, 2017 [37 favorites]


Sorry. Yeah, I'm better than that, and ordinarily I wouldn't mention such a thing. I guess I was just trying to take one slight shred of mean satisfaction from an article that otherwise struck me as a shockingly sympathetic portrayal of people trying to drive me out of my profession. At least it doesn't make them look hot. Ugh. Cold comfort, really.
posted by potrzebie at 3:48 PM on September 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Just the other day, I heard someone say that it's clear that feminist men are only feminists because they're ugly, fat men who can't attract a woman any other way. I can understand the appeal of applying the converse theory to MRAs, but I dunno if uglypolitical theory is either true or useful.

I have known some men who are not what you'd call conventionally good-looking who are delightful people who have no trouble dating. I've known some men who do have trouble dating but are not bitter, evil monsters. I've known some men who are assholes but not misogynists. Being a bitter evil misogynist monster is a choice.
posted by Frowner at 3:50 PM on September 23, 2017 [51 favorites]


Ha, there was a time when I considered moving to Silicon Valley because I thought it might be a little more progressive. But it's not a geographic thing, it's an industry thing. The types and degrees of sexism vary depending on corporate culture and policies, but I haven't seen any evidence that there are huge differences among different parts of the US.

And man, these guys. They never seem to even be talking about specifics. It's all these generalizations and fucking hypotheticals and passed down stories of stuff they were told happened somewhere. I'm sure there ARE cases of men losing out on work to less qualified women because it's a big giant world out there and everything happens in it. But how many personal experiences have they had with direct, explicit sexism, and how many of their male friends have the same damned stories? Why are they always speculating, and why are they always bringing up irrelevant stuff like about divorces and dating and things?

Some time back, I was talking about the fact that every time I'd start a new project with new people, someone would assume I was an admin assistant or something and start ordering me around. And this guy in that discussion accused me of exaggerating and being hypersensitive and probably really difficult to work with; and told me about how he and his coworkers took turns taking meeting minutes and things like that because they weren't insecure about sometimes doing what needed to be done, you see. It was that inconceivable to him that my experience was different from his that he just casually assumed I was full of shit.

And I mean, that stuff happens all the time, so normally, that wouldn't even be notable, but just a few weeks ago, someone linked a story about sexism in tech, and it was THAT FUCKING GUY who is now writing a "progressive" advice column explaining sexism and someone recommended thought I should read it. (Not just me, but a fairly small group that included me.)
posted by ernielundquist at 3:55 PM on September 23, 2017 [34 favorites]


I recently moved from academia to a tech startup, which gave me reason to attend a tech conference. The lack of gender diversity (as well as any other kind of visible diversity) among the attendees was astonishing. It gave me serious pause about my career move, but it also strengthened my resolve to do everything I could to ensure that our company made diverse hiring a priority.
posted by jedicus at 4:09 PM on September 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


jedicus: I recently moved from academia to a tech startup, which gave me reason to attend a tech conference. The lack of gender diversity (as well as any other kind of visible diversity) among the attendees was astonishing.

Monica Rogati's Bechdel Test for tech conferences: 1. Two women speaking. 2. On the same panel. 3. Not about women in tech.

(Did the conference pass the test?)
posted by clawsoon at 4:13 PM on September 23, 2017 [45 favorites]


Oh gad oh gad I want to dive in and read all of these RIGHT NOW but I know that in my current mood it will give me heart palpitations.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 4:14 PM on September 23, 2017


Sounds like a false dilemma: it doesn't have to be universal to be consistent and/or predictable.
posted by rhizome at 4:16 PM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


In case you were wondering what TechBro James Damore was up to lately, these are a few of his latest tweets.

“The KKK is horrible and I don’t support them in any way, but can we admit that their internal names are cool e.g. ‘Grand Wizard.’”

You would think a supposedly educated person would know that any statement that starts out "I'm not a racist, but ..." is not going to end well.

Yikes, it gets worse:
“You know you’ve moralized an issue when you can’t criticize its heroes or acknowledge any positive aspects of its villains.”

And finally with the victimization:
“If they make the actual KKK the only place where you can acknowledge the coolness of D&D terms, then you’ll just push people into the KKK.”

Men's Rights Activism and White Supremacy. Two great tastes that go together.
posted by JackFlash at 4:27 PM on September 23, 2017 [57 favorites]


I wonder if he has ever thought about the irony of moralizing about the dangers of moralizing.
posted by clawsoon at 4:32 PM on September 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Monica Rogati's Bechdel Test for tech conferences: 1. Two women speaking. 2. On the same panel. 3. Not about women in tech.

(Did the conference pass the test?)


There were no panel discussions, only individual speakers. But out of 6 or 7 speakers, only one was a woman. Her topic was every bit as technical as the rest, though.

For what it's worth, the hosting company's own representation at the conference seemed more diverse than the attendee population, but still far short of balanced.
posted by jedicus at 4:43 PM on September 23, 2017


I feel sorry for women in tech - the industry constantly degrades, marginalizes, harasses, and abuses them with impunity, and then turns around and says any effort to put an end to this is the real problem.

s/tech/world though, hey?

The last and only tech conference I was at did have women speaking. Yay! Progress! So cool! And then one woman made a comment about breast pumps (actually relevant to her talk, which was on different aspects of accessible tech for blind/VI people and what ‘accessible’ can mean), and the entire following panel after she left was littered with jokes about breast pumps. Haha, breast pumps! BREEEEEAST pumps! Haha does it look like a breast pump, lol.
posted by Catseye at 4:52 PM on September 23, 2017 [13 favorites]


I recently moved from academia to a tech startup, which gave me reason to attend a tech conference

Yeah academia, science has its own gender problems, most notably issues with career progression for women who have children compared to men who have children, but I just don’t see the raw, unbridled hatred and misogyny that’s so obviously present in tech.

In my lab, in my department, even in my field, the idea that women can’t code, that they are technically deficient, would just be considered utterly laughable.

And the whole panel system at tech conferences appears, to my mind, not much more than a system to get some exposure for some drinking buddies, which is why efforts to get more diversity on panels so constantly seem to fall flat.
posted by Jimbob at 4:59 PM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Haha, breast pumps! BREEEEEAST pumps! Haha does it look like a breast pump, lol.

Seriously, the fuck is wrong with these people? Why have they failed to work out that they are (allegedly) professional now and not everything has to be an immature joke? If you’re on a panel, presumably someone thought your opinion matters - why would you think it’s a good place to act like a 13-year old kid? Those people still have jobs after that? Again, I can not imagine this happening at a scientific conference. Happy to be proven wrong.

(Although...At the recent Ecologically Society of America, a talk got through the review process that advocated the promotion of abortion to cull the human population. Attendees were almost universally pissed.)
posted by Jimbob at 5:20 PM on September 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


Jimbob, I once sat through a talk at a scientific conference wherein the speaker compared a system with impurities to Britney Spears at her low point, and a system without impurities to Britney Spears as a brand new pop star.

I have absolutely no problem whatsoever believing that a pile of idiot academics would do the same thing.
posted by nat at 5:39 PM on September 23, 2017 [7 favorites]


I wouldn’t be collaborating with or employing them if I saw them do that, nat. If they were a student I would make sure their supervisor knew.
posted by Jimbob at 5:56 PM on September 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Sucks, right? Can't squeeze your secretary's ass anymore, can't demand that a female subordinate suck your dick in exchange for a promotion, can't tell your female colleagues that they're not allowed to hire women, can't talk about how awful it is to work with or for women without getting a raft of shit for it, can't act like a drunken 20-year-old frat boy at the office. Life is so unfair - you work and you work and after all these years you're expected to act like an adult! A professional! Shocking.
Yep. I'm reminded of a (white, female) Fox News host who was crying that "political correctness means I'm having to second-guess myself all the time."

To which my internal response was: "You know who else has to second-guess themselves all the time? Minorities, when interacting with most anyone who is white. Women, interacting with many men. QUILTBAG and people with disabilities."

"Being on top" means never having to question yourself, your motives, or the systems that support your position in society. The moment you ask many of them to act with just a little empathy, respect and understanding, they claim that the sky is falling, that all is disaster, and that they can't possibly cope with this new state of affairs.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 6:05 PM on September 23, 2017 [39 favorites]


Glad to hear it, Jimbob, me neither; but at least in my discipline it still happens and I won't pretend otherwise.
posted by nat at 6:09 PM on September 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile in the North Carolina Research Triangle Park area:

NC Women in Machine Learning and Data Science: 570 members, founded about 18 months ago. Description: "We meet to socialize and to discuss machine learning and data science in an informal, vendor-neutral setting. Our purpose is to grow the talent and community of women in these fields. We plan to meet quarterly in the evenings. Topics will include presentations from practitioners about their work in machine learning and data science, talks from academics about their related research, and tutorials."

NC Men in Machine Learning and Data Science: 19 members, founded yesterday. Description: "Explore Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, with emphasis on men empowerment."

Only one of these has an agenda regarding gender issues.
posted by ardgedee at 6:13 PM on September 23, 2017 [21 favorites]


Frange Malleum.

The problem with the "witch hunt" complaints in this piece is that witches do not exist.

But the "witch hunt" is a time-honored conjuration of euro-misogyny, so no surprise to see it summoned by (white) techbros.
posted by eustatic at 6:26 PM on September 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


Many men now feel like “there’s a gun to the head” to be better about gender issue

Yeah, well, we've been trying to do it the nice way for twenty-plus years. If you haven't clued in by now then it's the gun for you.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:10 PM on September 23, 2017 [40 favorites]


In my lab, in my department, even in my field, the idea that women can’t code, that they are technically deficient, would just be considered utterly laughable.
To be fair, James Damore never claimed that women are less technically capable than men. He claimed that they are less interested in certain types of jobs, and the lack of interest has (at least partly) biological causes (e.g. preference for jobs with more social interaction). As suspect as that claim is, claiming that women are not as interested in tech is not the same as claiming they are not as capable.

The NYT's summary that "James Damore was fired by Google last month after suggesting that there may be biological reasons for gender gaps in tech jobs" is technically true, but I think it's misleading because people will read that and immediately think that he said they have lower IQs or aren't as good at math or whatever.

There's just something bizarre about the way people are demonizing this guy. Scientific truth of it aside, is it really that offensive to say that social interaction is more important to women than to men? It's like comments that would have been unremarkable (if a little tiresome) only a decade or two ago have suddenly become totally beyond the pale - but only in some contexts and not others: it's quite normal to say that women have better social skills than men if that's being presented as a strength women "bring to the table". The outrage about his KKK tweets is weird as well.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:29 PM on September 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


> Scientific truth of it aside, is it really that offensive to say that social interaction is more important to women than to men? It's like comments that would have been unremarkable (if a little tiresome) only a decade or two ago have suddenly become totally beyond the pale

We had a whole thread about him and his comments and his firing and maybe we could not rehash it, and maybe you could consider why you're minimizing and softening what he said.
posted by rtha at 7:41 PM on September 23, 2017 [70 favorites]


LPH, women are 51 percent of the population. It is, in fact, sexist to assert that all women share any behavior by virtue of being women. It's also unscientific.

That's before we even get into the fact that trans folks and genderqueer/fluid folks exist.
posted by emjaybee at 7:44 PM on September 23, 2017 [46 favorites]


Yes, his claim that the reason there are fewer women in tech is biological really is that offensive, because the point of that claim is to deny the existence of the massive amount of both systemic and personal misogyny that exists in the field. He is trying to say that all the harassment and discrimination and cruelty and assaults are fine, that they were never really the problem, that even if you got rid of all that stuff women wouldn't want to be in tech anyway so there's no reason to get rid of it. He wants the policing of behavior to go away. He's not interested in truth or reality (which would be very obvious to anybody who actually read his manifesto, which bears no resemblance to a cogent argument and is backed by a combination of evidence that is false and evidence that doesn't say the things that he's claiming it says), but rather in being able to keep doing whatever he wants to do with no consequences while surrounded by people who are exactly like him.

Scientific truth of it aside, is it really that offensive to say that social interaction is more important to women than to men?

That's not at all what he said. That's not at all what he said to an incredible degree. That line of logic would be an argument for more women in engineering, not against.

The outrage about his KKK tweets is weird as well.

No, it's not. There is only one kind of person who tries to convince you that the KKK is cool. His hurried defense that “If they make the actual KKK the only place where you can acknowledge the coolness of D&D terms, then you’ll just push people into the KKK.” should make it obvious to anyone that he's not arguing in good faith; our pop culture has never had a greater acceptance of "D&D terms" than right now, when there are stories about and Youtube videos of and podcasts featuring celebrities of all stripes playing RPGs all over the place and Game of Thrones is the most popular piece of media in the world for several years running. He does not actually believe the arguments he's using to support his claims in either of these cases; he started with the conclusion ("we should not be policing men's behavior in tech"/"the KKK should seem cooler and more inviting") and then desperately worked backward to try to find any justification at all. In both cases his arguments themselves are what make this clear, because there is no way you could believe the arguments first and then come to the conclusions he makes from them.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:52 PM on September 23, 2017 [66 favorites]


To be fair, ...
similar opener: I'm not a a racist, but ...

... aside, is it really that offensive ...
"but doesn't my opinion as a man supersede those of so many women that directly have had the experience and called it offensive?"

Unfortunately, this is an example of the tiresome mansplaining that women worldwide are just so exhausted over on a near daily basis.
posted by xtine at 7:55 PM on September 23, 2017 [31 favorites]


Maybe you could consider why he's been so blatantly misrepresented?

I agree, it is extremely important that we consider exactly why so many people are defending his completely inane ramblings and holding them up as if they were some kind of secret truth that he's revealing to us. There is a thing going on here that is at the heart of what is poisoning Western culture.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:58 PM on September 23, 2017 [28 favorites]


"God, fuck the fucking New York Times for the tone they took in this story. These people are a fucking lunatic fringe and they're both-sidesing it. Seriously. This is a story I'd expect to read in Breitbart with only a couple of modifications."
Instead, it'll end up on Breitbart as evidence that everything they've been saying is true. It'll be passed around, dissected, embellished by the MRA-types, and be held up as proof the next time some mildly-disaffected guy looking for understanding after being passed over by a girl / for a job / in a promotion wanders into their sphere. Eventually it'll be used as a cite on Wikipedia - "look, the New York Times reported it, so it must be true!" - and that is game over.

The New York Times, used as a force multiplier by the sadfucks. And you still trust that rag?
posted by Pinback at 8:06 PM on September 23, 2017 [18 favorites]


The KKK is a terrorist organization dedicated to continuing the civil war and destroying the United States of America. If you choose to waste your breath praising them for something innocuous, you are doing so instead of praising any number of organizations that are not terrorists for whom murdering American citizens is on the agenda. It takes an incredibly coddled mindset to believe that choice has no consequences for your fellow human beings.

If you have such a hard-on for being a counterculture nerd and being picked on and misunderstood, you could for instance try being a Furry Juggalo LARPer or something. It's a much better use of your time than apologizing for bigots and worse, and you'll have a lot more fun.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:09 PM on September 23, 2017 [24 favorites]


But his completely insane ramblings aren't what is poisoning American culture; they're what drives American culture. In another thread, I declared that "Quality, competence and human compassion are NOT American qualities because Success IS the Most American Quality, and those other things just make Success more difficult." And if human compassion were a requirement for Success in America, most of the tech industry, from Zuckerberg on down, would be kicked out on the street (but compassionately). "Disruption" in American Business is summed up by a 50-year old song lyric: "Meet the new boss; same as the old boss."
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:11 PM on September 23, 2017 [7 favorites]


L.P. Hatecraft: There's just something bizarre about the way people are demonizing this guy.

I thought that olinerd made one of many great points in the previous discussion:
What is especially painful to me (hi, I'm a woman engineer in the Bay Area tech industry) is not just the knowledge that people are constantly questioning my right to have my job, or my right to have gotten my engineering degree, or my right to do any of the not-stereotypically-feminine things that I actually fucking love doing, but that when stuff like this comes up people like you, MikeWarot, get all "but can't we maybe just discuss it because maybe there are some points here" - what you're missing is that we're not discussing economic theory or existential philosophy where we can all maybe agree to disagree. What we're discussing is my right to be treated as an equal to someone else in pay, work environment, work opportunity, etc. To me, that seems like a really fucking fundamental right most white men take for granted, and yes, it greatly offends me for someone to consider that my equal rights are up for academic debate among friends as opposed to a deeply personal, human thing they themselves would consider untouchable. This isn't abstract. This is my life, and it is many other women and PoC's lives. It's the same whether we're debating the rights of LGBTQ people or the rights of immigrants or anyone else - this isn't just a "huh, interesting thought experiment" kind of discussion. It is a "do [marginalized group] deserve to be treated like people the way I am" discussion. And that kind of discussion has to be managed extremely carefully, because it is deeply hurtful, not just in a "oh no poor offended snowflake" sort of way, but in a way that can push people out of jobs, out of families, out of society and further marginalize them in dangerous ways.
Damore's insistence on removing empathy and morality from the discussion is precisely so that voices like olinerd's aren't given weight. "She's being emotional, therefore she can't see the facts clearly, therefore we should discount her. (I, on the other hand, do not see how my own fears are driving my poor reasoning, therefore I am rational and should be listened to.)"

When I read about the early history of the abolitionist movement, I was struck by the constant insistence of slaveowners on having calm, rational, reasonable discussions. Let's not get too heated about this. Let's not demonize people. Let's keep this on an intellectual level. That - and discussions here - have helped me realize how much "calm and reasonable" is a synonym for "let the powerful keep their power; let the privileged keep their privilege; let the powerless keep in their place."

Rage at injustice drives change for the better. Calm talk about biological difference is at best an argument for the status quo, and at worst an argument for the status quo ante.
posted by clawsoon at 8:28 PM on September 23, 2017 [119 favorites]


I am so fucking tired of having to explain to men over and over again that we're motherfucking human beings, not a mysterious alien species that functions completely differently than human men. I'm especially sick of having to have that conversation here. Fucking DO BETTER.
posted by palomar at 8:33 PM on September 23, 2017 [82 favorites]


And the "science" of biological difference which he spouted in the memo went much deeper than just "women are less interested in tech stuff, so there'll be less of them in tech."

He said that women are biologically more neurotic, and that's why there aren't as many of them in high-stress jobs. (He has since said he shouldn't have said that, probably because he realizes that he is, in fact, saying that women are biologically less capable in some jobs.)

He says that men are judged on status and women are judged on beauty, for biological reasons.

He says that IQ is biological.

He says that men are biologically disposable.

He says that women are more protected, for biological reasons.

The memo is shot through with bad biology, evolutionary psychology which shows little-to-no familiarity with human history and society beyond knowing that Genghis Khan probably raped a lot of women. (Because women are more protected, of course.) (Wait, doesn't evo-psych say that it's biologically inevitable that the disposable sex will be the sex judged on its beauty? Not only does he use bad evo-psych, he doesn't even realize when the grab-bag of ideas that he assembled, vaguely remembered from Trivers, contradicts itself.)

Some of that evolutionary psychology does apply to some species. Those species do not have the two-parent care, alloparenting, low rates of cuckoldry, and sociability of Homo sapiens. We are not a species of antlered males butting heads, winner takes all the females, that informs the evolutionary psychology behind his vision of a just and reasonable tech diversity program.
posted by clawsoon at 9:06 PM on September 23, 2017 [36 favorites]


And here is the fpp about mefi's own sciatrix's point-by-point scientific takedown of Damore's piece.
posted by rtha at 9:28 PM on September 23, 2017 [56 favorites]


He showed more respect for the complexity of bacterial psychology than he has shown for the complexity of human psychology. Bacteria? Subtle, non-linear psychology that you can't predict just from knowing the evolutionary theory. Women? They don't like math and scary things because evolution. Look at my bell curves.

Yes, that's offensive.
posted by clawsoon at 9:34 PM on September 23, 2017 [28 favorites]


is it really that offensive to say that social interaction is more important to women than to men?
Google is an advertising company, if I was on Google's board and I believed that social interaction is more important to women I'd be asking why it's not 80/20 gender diversity in favour of women.

Why are Google employing all these idiot manchildren with the social skills of toddlers when their primary function is human and social interaction?

Unless of course they think being a man makes you better at maths or something.
posted by fullerine at 9:52 PM on September 23, 2017 [30 favorites]


Men's Rights Activism and White Supremacy. Two great tastes that go together.

There's plenty of evidence that Men’s-Rights Activism Is the Gateway Drug for the Alt-Right. Not only that but that there is a deliberate effort to redpill and recruit guys (including targeting those fresh out of break-ups) using MRA as a pathway.

I hate that 2017 is increasingly turning me into a conspiracy theorist, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Altizer article is more than just one guy spluttering his thoughts, or even just some Herman/Chomsky zeitgeist thing.

They don't like math and scary things because evolution. Look at my bell curves.

And all they end up doing is proving that they themselves either (or some combination of): can't do research, don't understand stats, or are unable to prevent their emotions/insecurities from cognitively biasing their analysis.

Certainly not people who should be working the field of practical applied logic. This may explain some things about Nvidia's drivers.
posted by Buntix at 9:58 PM on September 23, 2017 [22 favorites]


LPH, women are 51 percent of the population. It is, in fact, sexist to assert that all women share any behavior by virtue of being women.
Saying that some behaviour is more common in women than in men is not saying that all women share it.
He's not interested in truth or reality (which would be very obvious to anybody who actually read his manifesto, which bears no resemblance to a cogent argument and is backed by a combination of evidence that is false and evidence that doesn't say the things that he's claiming it says), but rather in being able to keep doing whatever he wants to do with no consequences while surrounded by people who are exactly like him.
He cited a number of research papers and one the authors of one those papers came forward to say that he was not misrepresenting them and broadly agreed with his conclusions.

Also, what is he actually doing that he is trying to excuse or avoid the consequences for with this memo? Did he sexually harrass someone? How do you know he's not interested in the truth? He was (until recently) a highly qualified and well paid engineer, why assume that he is a bitter loser nursing a grudge against women? He claims to be motivated mainly by intellectual curiosity.

One thing that frustrates me about responses to these kinds of controversies is that people tend to focus on what they believe are the political social implications and consequences of what is being said rather that what is actually being said.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 10:03 PM on September 23, 2017


I'd like to think that this was the NYT and Nellie Bowles doing the NYT thing where they let their subjects do some auto-petard-hoisting, but this is 2017 and in case you haven't noticed, 2016 happened, and goobergump happened, and MRA/incel/redpill happened, and you can't do that thing any more. Sorry, that thing is an ex-thing.
posted by holgate at 10:04 PM on September 23, 2017 [8 favorites]


L.P. Hatecraft, have you bothered to read the first thread we had here on Damore, or the rebuttal that sciatrix spent valuable time writing up, or the FPP covering her work?
posted by palomar at 10:17 PM on September 23, 2017 [40 favorites]


> Also, what is he actually doing that he is trying to excuse or avoid the consequences for with this memo? Did he sexually harrass someone?

We covered all of this in the original thread. Sorry if you think you're making original points that no one here considered, but you're not. Just go read that one. Do your own research.
posted by rtha at 10:22 PM on September 23, 2017 [43 favorites]


I think there's ample reason for this not to be another thread dedicated to discussing Damore, sbut the implications and consequences of saying a thing are part of saying the thing. Proclaiming your colleagues to biologically unsuited to their jobs is not a neutral act of intellectual curiosity, but one with direct consequences on the well-being of the actual people around you that you're talking about. You are responsible for the implications of what comes out of your mouth too.

Plenty of people manage to spend their entire careers studying this stuff, and I actually mean advancing the state of research in the field, without hurting others, which should be a pretty big clue that it's possible to do the science without doing what Damore did.
posted by zachlipton at 10:30 PM on September 23, 2017 [16 favorites]


L.P. Hatecraft: One thing that frustrates me about responses to these kinds of controversies is that people tend to focus on what they believe are the political social implications and consequences of what is being said rather that what is actually being said.

I don't know where you get that he's claiming to be motivated mainly by intellectual curiosity. In the memo, he makes it explicit that he's motivated by a desire to change Google's diversity practises, give conservative political viewpoints a larger voice within Google, and change the focus from moral and empathetic concerns to corporate cost-benefit calculations. It's not other people imputing political and social goals to him that he never said; it's him telling us what his social and political goals are.

He also wants to stopped being judged - he wants "psychological safety" - but he doesn't want to have to worry about microaggressions - he doesn't want to have to respect what other people have said gives them psychological safety. He explicitly stated that he wants to change the social environment so that conservative views can be stated without being judged, while women and minorities can be demeaned and insulted so long as the offender didn't mean it. ("Prioritize intention", as he puts it.)

The memo is not a theoretical exercise in intellectual curiosity. It has stated social and political goals.
posted by clawsoon at 10:33 PM on September 23, 2017 [47 favorites]


[L.P. Hatecraft, we went over Damore's memo extensively in the prior thread and we don't need to rehash it here. Thanks.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:45 PM on September 23, 2017 [13 favorites]


I'm better than that

i'm not and he looks like a foot
posted by poffin boffin at 10:57 PM on September 23, 2017 [30 favorites]


In my left-wing circles, this issue of whether or not it's okay to try to get someone fired because of their alt-right beliefs is quite polarizing. One one hand, I appreciate the argument that employers shouldn't care about employees' views so long as they don't detract from the ability to work. But seriously, I don't know how an employer can learn something like this:

Mr. Altizer, 52, said he had realized a few years ago that feminists in Silicon Valley had formed a cabal whose goal was to subjugate men. At the time, he said, he was one of the few with that view.

...and not fire the employee for being batshit crazy. Batshit crazy people are liabilities. If they have such a deep flaw in their thinking about social or political things, how can you trust them to make good decisions about things that are work related?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:06 PM on September 23, 2017 [24 favorites]


The outrage about [James Damore's] KKK tweets is weird as well.

what the fuck is this shit

are people not supposed to be outraged that some dumbfuck is praising the KKK and trying to link D&D to it?

what's the appropriate response to it then?
posted by anem0ne at 12:00 AM on September 24, 2017 [35 favorites]


Poffin boffin, thank you. My blood pressure was through the roof and you made me laugh instead of throwing my phone.
posted by greermahoney at 1:16 AM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Look, about the KKK thing:

(1) Er, frankly I don't think it is particularly cool; having a title like "Grand Wizard" reeks of insecure teenager, but in any case:
(2) You can make an analogous argument about how the Nazis had really cool uniforms (if anything maybe a bit too cool?). And it's true, they did!
(3) Because that's THE ENTIRE POINT OF HOW THEY OPERATE - you find a group of men you can exploit through some sort of Dolchstoßlegende about how they were/are being betrayed by the Jews/blacks/liberals/catholics/feminists, and then you give them some sort of accepting structure in which you can massage their poor bruised egos and give them cool titles and ranks and maybe some sort of paramilitary structure and distract them from the fact they're a bunch of sad old men sitting around thinking of ways to make other people miserable — instead you make them feel powerful again. Ta-da! Instant source of muscle for pursuing your unpleasant authoritarian agenda!

You can't talk about the attractive cool bits independently of everything else - they're an integral part of the mechanism, and in trying to do so you're helping their agenda.

When I was a kid the local bigots had cool titles like "Grand Master of the Lodge" and they wanted to make Catholics miserable but the KKK and neo-nazis are just the same shit in a different pile, even if it's cast in ironic inverted commas as with G*merG*te or MRAs.
posted by doop at 3:54 AM on September 24, 2017 [38 favorites]


...and not fire the employee for being batshit crazy. Batshit crazy people are liabilities. If they have such a deep flaw in their thinking about social or political things, how can you trust them to make good decisions about things that are work related?

It's more than that .... this chip designer wont be going to work for companies like nVidia (and I've considered it a couple of times over the years) if people like James Altizer are working there .... maybe it's a good thing that all the batshit crazies all hang out where we can keep an eye on them, and avoid them in the real world
posted by mbo at 4:32 AM on September 24, 2017 [7 favorites]


But they're designing the systems we are using, which means that those systems have deeply embedded structural biases. We can't avoid the tech bros. The things they make are becoming the very fabric of our social lives.

This is the article that finally made me cancel my subscription to the Times. I'm appalled.
posted by sockermom at 6:01 AM on September 24, 2017 [16 favorites]


I'm just gobsmacked at the NYT's both-sides approach to this.

I wonder if they'll come up with a sympathetic story about how the push for racial equality has gone too far? Complete with flattering pictures of white men wrapped in confederate flags, talking about how their lives are just ruined by the presence of brown people who are obviously lesser humans anyway, the research backs them up.

Oh wait, it's 2017, that ... has happened too, just not from the NYT, yet.
posted by Dashy at 6:51 AM on September 24, 2017 [12 favorites]




As suspect as that claim is, claiming that women are not as interested in tech is not the same as claiming they are not as capable.

Actually, in tech culture, it sort of is, given the widespread acceptance of the cult of the amateur in the field. Interest is considered to correlate with ability, and the culture makes heroes out of people who basically have turned tech into their entire life.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:02 AM on September 24, 2017 [14 favorites]


And considering that the entire purpose of developing technology is to sell it to the people who use it, narrowing your development team to the most isolated, socially incapable, biased segment of the global minority is about as absurd and terrible a business platform as one could possibly come up with. Even if it were objectively demonstrable that these men were the most capable technicians, which there certainly is no evidence to believe such a thing. Most Silicon Valley companies fail, most products fail, even many Google projects have failed because they did not hit critical mass. Like Google Plus--a social network. Let's sit here and imagine for a minute the absurdity of hiring people to build a social network who can't even relate to half the fucking population on even the most abstract basis.

If you want to sell to a diverse audience, you need a diverse team to think of what that audience might want to see. People from different cultures and different experiences bring the benefit of their immersion and their POV that you simply don't get from anecdotal secondary observation. If you want to sell to a Chinese audience, you don't send your team to China for a week and hope they manage to overcome the language barrier and the "lost in translation" gaffes in order to get even an iota of understanding of what a Chinese market might be interested in...you hire a Chinese team, ideally in China. Similarly, if you want to sell to women, you hire women. If you want to sell to POC, you hire them.

It really demonstrates the sheer blindness, stupidity and arrogance of the MRA crowd, and the "but don't they have a point?" crowd, to think that yes, some California tech bro knows more about the rest of us than the rest of us. No they don't, their failures prove it, and that ridiculous Damore manifesto proves it further.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:40 AM on September 24, 2017 [27 favorites]


Scientific truth of it aside, is it really that offensive to say that social interaction is more important to women than to men?

blatant lies are always going to be offensive to some people. Social interaction, specifically with women, is so throbbingly important to so many men that a huge number of them are not only willing to commit crimes in order to socially interact with women against our will, but they are willing to openly say that these crimes -- harassment, stalking, and the like -- should no more be crimes than should schoolboy bullying: boys want what boys want, and if boys want to talk to you, boys NEED to talk to you, so just stop acting like being left alone could possibly be as important to a woman as social interaction is to a man.

men have entire social media platforms dedicated to talking to each other about how angry-lonely they are and how crying, flailing, kicking mad they are that women won't talk to them. talk, not fuck. there have been two metafilter posts in recent memory about how awful and miserable it is to be a man in various particular subgroups, because they don't have enough friends and men are special in how badly they need friends, and if you don't have enough friends, you die.

men are obsessed with social interaction and they can't live without it. Women like it fine, and generally prefer having it to not having it. We are also pretty good at it on average, though certainly not universally. but women's ability to choose aloneness over vile company -- our ability to understand that other things are more important than social interaction -- is one of men's primary grudges against us. I don't think it's biologically sex-based, but they sure do. they believe it, and they hate us for it.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:10 AM on September 24, 2017 [78 favorites]


The funny thing is that women were seen as being highly suited to coding when it was seen as requiring attention to detail but not creativity, kind of like knitting or one of those other lowly womanly pursuits. Nobody mentioned women's need for social interaction in the early days of computing, when the guys all wanted to do the manly stuff with hardware, and software was for women. Women's innate need for social interaction only became an issue when people decided that software development was a high-status occupation. Funny, that.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:18 AM on September 24, 2017 [58 favorites]


queenofbithynia: there have been two metafilter posts in recent memory about how awful and miserable it is to be a man in various particular subgroups ... men are obsessed with social interaction and they can't live without it.

It's funny how much of my training as a man - not from my father, but from my peer group and wider society - involved learning to deny blindingly obvious things. I'm not responding to my fears, I'm thinking rationally. Only women are afraid. I don't need social interaction, I just need sex. Only women need closeness.

It must seem stupidly, blindingly obvious looking in from the outside, but some of those threads feel like a revelation if you've spent your life in the Man Re-Education Camp that is modern western society.
posted by clawsoon at 10:30 AM on September 24, 2017 [22 favorites]


Ugh, my current job is undergoing some drastic culture changes and not for the better. We recently renamed all of our teams and did away with functional names like SSRS Reporting, Business Intelligence Development, Quality Assurance etc and renamed them things like 'Team Lego', 'Team Jurassic Park', 'Team Mechasaur' (note, not the actual names). So I have no idea what anyone does anymore and we're all being assigned to groups named after things that appeal to 14 year old boys. When I bring up that this might seem just a bit alienating and juvenile to the adult women working here, I get a blank stare. I get the eyeroll when I suggest if this is the direction we're going, where is Team Hello Kitty or Team Frappuccino?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:34 AM on September 24, 2017 [11 favorites]


I have a friend who's worked in various capacities in that industry off and on. I haven't heard any sexual harassment stories out of her (I'm guessing it may be because she wears suits to work), but every single job she's ever had has been filled with horrible people and abusive managers and crazy backbiting behavior. To the point where yesterday I asked her which job she'd hated the least in her career and she said, "Starbucks, ten years ago." I should also probably note that her last job was at a Starbucks, very recently.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:00 PM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Textio predicts the performance of your listing and gives you real-time guidance on how to improve it.

Does it work? What are the subtlest biases you've seen it uncover?
posted by Coventry at 12:46 PM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Quote from the article: "There was no control over women hiring women."

It's like the Protocols of the Sisters of Lesbos or something.
posted by acb at 1:38 PM on September 24, 2017 [11 favorites]


I thought Erin Kissane's take, Writing Well about Terrible People, is insightful. It offers a number of ways in which the article, if it was going to exist at all, could have been more usefully framed, such as including the voices of women who have to work with these men or contextualizing the situation with statistics about the gender gap and experts on the science that is being discuses.
posted by zachlipton at 2:12 PM on September 24, 2017 [21 favorites]


...and not fire the employee for being batshit crazy. Batshit crazy people are liabilities.

In my experience software engineers (especially talented ones) come in varying levels of batshit crazy. Well balanced ones aren't completely absent, but if you want to build a large engineering organization sooner or later you're going to have to dip into the batshit barrel.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:17 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


In my experience software engineers (especially talented ones) come in varying levels of batshit crazy. Well balanced ones aren't completely absent, but if you want to build a large engineering organization sooner or later you're going to have to dip into the batshit barrel.

That is a load of bovine manure on a number of levels.

One, it's just another form of the tired "we must ignore the bad behavior of geniuses lest we cripple their genius" argument. Which is a crock - genius doesn't mean that you get a free pass on being a garbage person.

Two, this is pathologizing inappropriate social behavior as mental illness, which is horrible as well. The problem here isn't that these people are mentally ill, it's that they have been allowed to act horribly to people they consider their lesser, and that needs to fucking stop.

Three, if software development is routinely producing such individuals with these massive social issues, then there is something horribly wrong with the industry. And that means that the industry needs to figure out what is happening and fix it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:33 PM on September 24, 2017 [41 favorites]


...and not fire the employee for being batshit crazy. Batshit crazy people are liabilities. If they have such a deep flaw in their thinking about social or political things, how can you trust them to make good decisions about things that are work related?

That point above about pathologizing inappropriate social behavior goes double here. The problem is not that these men are mentally ill, it's that they see women as lesser, and are offended that people actually expect them to treat women as equal. And treating that as mental illness dismisses how severe this issue is.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:41 PM on September 24, 2017 [17 favorites]


Everyone knows that eccentric, off-putting, and aggressive personalities are indicators of brilliance. That's why technical women with these traits do so well on performance reviews.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:51 PM on September 24, 2017 [16 favorites]


In my experience software engineers (especially talented ones) come in varying levels of batshit crazy. Well balanced ones aren't completely absent, but if you want to build a large engineering organization sooner or later you're going to have to dip into the batshit barrel.

OR, you could hire any number of the bazillion software engineers that are perfectly sane and no doubt overlooked, because they don't have a reputation of "crazy genius" that makes otherwise sane management teams think that you make more money if you hire those people. Never mind the money you lose when you drive away a dozen capable and well-rounded employees in favor of your crazy genius, and your team breaks down anyway.

Developers are a dime a dozen. You don't need the amazingly talented nutjobs, you need the perfectly competent normies who have other outside interests and soft skills besides typing on a keyboard. Particularly where collaboration and product development are concerned. And if you're looking around the office at your development team, and 90% of them are male, then you've got a hiring bias problem and that would be a good place to start.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:52 PM on September 24, 2017 [10 favorites]


Developers are a dime a dozen.

It's definitely a seller's market if you're any good.
posted by Coventry at 4:55 PM on September 24, 2017


It's definitely a seller's market if you're any good.

And male, and white, went to a top school, and under the age of 45, and you know the right people...
posted by thegears at 4:57 PM on September 24, 2017 [24 favorites]


>>In my experience software engineers (especially talented ones) come in
>>varying levels of batshit crazy. Well balanced ones aren't completely absent,
>>but if you want to build a large engineering organization sooner or later you're
>>going to have to dip into the batshit barrel.

>That is a load of bovine manure on a number of levels.

Whatever. I've been a software engineer in the valley for 30+ years now working at startups and behemoths alike and those are my observations. If you don't like them, feel free to make your own.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:59 PM on September 24, 2017


Eh, it depends where you are. In Chicago, if you can pass a basic C++ tech interview, there is some midsized trading firm that will hire you. They might be a shitshow of an operation, but even the shitshows pay pretty good.
posted by PMdixon at 5:01 PM on September 24, 2017


Developers are a dime a dozen. You don't need the amazingly talented nutjobs, you need the perfectly competent normies who have other outside interests and soft skills besides typing on a keyboard.

Remind me to use you as a recruiter at my next startup. Nothing like risking 10 million dollars on a bunch of dime-a-dozen developers.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:03 PM on September 24, 2017


Whatever. I've been a software engineer in the valley for 30+ years now working at startups and behemoths alike and those are my observations. If you don't like them, feel free to make your own.

Did you even bother to read the rest of the comment? Because if you had you'd see that the point wasn't that developers aren't "batshit crazy" but that pathologizing bad behavior is not the way to deal with it. Didn't say the bad behavior was absent, rather that framing it as mental illness was harmful.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:09 PM on September 24, 2017 [11 favorites]


Didn't say the bad behavior was absent, rather that framing it as mental illness was harmful.

The points were:

1. This behavior is unacceptable, period. If you think that there is some level of skill that makes it somehow acceptable, go and consider why you think blatant misogyny is acceptable.

2. Treating misogyny as mental illness both dismisses what misogyny actually is, and demeans people who actually suffer from mental illness. These people aren't mentally ill, they just think that they are better than women, and that's because of acculturation and privilege.

3. The fact that there are so many of this sort in software engineering means that there is something horribly wrong with the field. So if you are actually concerned with the health of the industry you work in, figuring out why blatant misogyny is so common in it is pretty important.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:28 PM on September 24, 2017 [23 favorites]


That point above about pathologizing inappropriate social behavior goes double here. The problem is not that these men are mentally ill, it's that they see women as lesser

Just to be clear the batshit I was referencing is not restricted to women. It's a raw anger that plays out against women, minorities, the poor, the unlucky, and the stupid (which is a catchall for everyone else).

These are some angry, angry people and I've often wondered if that is a pathology.

That they need to get their behaviour under control tout suite is not in doubt, but in the long run it'll probably be better if we can figure out what it's about.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:42 PM on September 24, 2017


Just to be clear the batshit I was referencing is not restricted to women. It's a raw anger that plays out against women, minorities, the poor, the unlucky, and the stupid (which is a catchall for everyone else).

These are some angry, angry people and I've often wondered if that is a pathology.


No, it isn't. It's raw, unfiltered privilege. These are people who have been repeatedly told that they are the elect, the elite, and that they are better than everyone, and thus their being told that no, they're just people like the rest of us and thus they have to treat us as people and not peons who should genuflect to them enrages them.

We know what it's about, and have for some time - because they don't shy away from telling you.
Trying to pathologize their behavior because you don't want to acknowledge what it's about or the complicity of the culture in creating it is bullshit.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:07 PM on September 24, 2017 [28 favorites]


Remind me to use you as a recruiter at my next startup. Nothing like risking 10 million dollars on a bunch of dime-a-dozen developers.

I hate to break it to you, but if you're looking for the standard asshole who graduated from the Ivy League and has a bunch of recognizable company names on their resume, that's exactly what you're doing. You're hiring the same shit that everyone else hires, and unsurprisingly you will get the same mindset and the same failure of imagination and the same biases. I mean, what's Silicon Valley's success rate, 5%? (Oh, the Guardian says it's 10%.) Despite all the supposed talent they hire and the ungodly amounts of money they burn through, they have no better chance of success than anyone else who ever starts a business. So what exactly are you paying for? Just the cache of being located in Silicon Valley? It would be just as useful to pile $10M in a dumpster and light it on fire.

Spend $10M to open an office in the Midwest and hire a bunch of graduates from state schools. You literally have exactly the same chances of succeeding with that talent pool, and probably better, because those people are also your market.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:54 PM on September 24, 2017 [21 favorites]


I could see that being true for consumer-focused development, and there have been some huge wins there, but what gets people excited about skilled developers is the possibility for automation of otherwise expensive business processes. Maybe anyone could bang out the youtube frontend given a detailed design for it, but the recommendation engine, the encoding/storage infrastructure, the player? Some rare knowledge and experience have gone into those.
posted by Coventry at 7:38 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Not really, and in fact a lot of these automation systems wind up having issues because they're created by developers from the same pool of people with the same interests. Also, firms like Google have a lot of institutional gravity - if Google was to relocate their headquarters to the Midwest tomorrow, wherever they relocated to would immediately become a major tech hub just by virtue of Google being there.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:08 PM on September 24, 2017 [5 favorites]


Not to mention that if one actually did want to automate expensive business processes, then they need developers who have a solid and nuanced understanding of business, and who can interact well with their business counterparts. That's exactly when you don't want a stable of code cavemen who do nothing but program and have no soft skills. It's exactly when you do want developers who can foster good relationships, and who have relationships in mind when they build their products.

Likewise, you also want business teams with a decent foundation in technology, not salesdroids who only understand numbers on spreadsheets, and goals as far as the close of the quarter or fiscal year.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:29 PM on September 24, 2017 [9 favorites]


You guys should go ahead and clone youtube, then. With the personnel savings, I'm sure you'll make squillions.
posted by Coventry at 8:38 PM on September 24, 2017


Fun fact, YouTube was founded by a group of Midwestern programmers, and most of the early hires were Midwestern programmers -- including women! -- largely out of the University of Illinois, but also other regional schools. Your example proves the point!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:45 PM on September 24, 2017 [30 favorites]


One of the YouTube founders, in fact, went to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, my wife's alma mater.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:50 PM on September 24, 2017 [8 favorites]


Your example proves the point!

I don't agree. YouTube's come a long way since then, and I've talked to people who've worked on it. The engineering issues they
described are not dime-a-dozen work. One of them was a woman, though. No argument from me that some women are capable of doing the work. It's the dime-a-dozen claim I'm responding to.
posted by Coventry at 8:53 PM on September 24, 2017


And as for the eccentric, angry, bigoted genius stereotype: I work for a university that has one of the more elite CS programs in the country, for a department that has the word "automation" in the name. In our department, we do have a few grads from our own program, but we also have many CS grads from state schools (including yours truly), a Chemical Engineering grad, and a developer whose highest degree was a BA in history from a southern state school. I've been there for over 12 years and gotten to know these folks very well, and I can assure you that nobody exhibits these traits.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:55 PM on September 24, 2017 [6 favorites]


Oh, so have we reached the point where we stop talking about the issues women face in tech to start talking about men in tech again now? Because the additional infuriating thing I've noticed is the frequency in which threads about women in tech issues turns into some sort of spitting match about the myth (or not) of 10x engineers (which are *of course* men).

The fact of the matter is that the majority of programming and tech jobs are not performed solo, nor in a vacuum. Programmers and technologists work on a team, and sometimes a team within groups of tiered hierarchies, teams of teams. Many teams. Teams of humans that require social interaction.

So there is no denying the fact that a toxic team member is going to radiate toxicity and negatively affect performance on their team or other teams they touch. Is this worth it? Is the 10x engineer worth making 10, 20, 100+ uncomfortable? Many engineers agree that morale is important to a company, so is it worth sacrificing the morale of many on the team just to satisfy one toxic person? Because as evidenced by Damore, it certainly demotivated many women at Google, a company of 70,000+ employees, and he's certainly not even a 10x engineer, but just one of rank and file order.
posted by xtine at 9:09 PM on September 24, 2017 [21 favorites]


the myth (or not) of 10x engineers (which are *of course* men).

The 10x thing has always seemed a bit silly to me, but the woman is an extraordinarily capable engineer and statistician, who's improved a few systems everyone in this thread has probably used.
posted by Coventry at 9:42 PM on September 24, 2017


I learned modern C++ from her. :-)
posted by Coventry at 9:44 PM on September 24, 2017


If you hire asshole developers, for whatever reason, your development manager/CTO/CIO is an idiot. That's it.
posted by mikelieman at 9:55 PM on September 24, 2017 [5 favorites]


most of the early hires were Midwestern programmers

Also, I don't want to be tarred with the implicit denigration of the midwest or inexpensive educations. I've met capable programmers living in the midwest, and for a while I arguably was one. And I've met extremely capable programmers without a fancy pedigree.
posted by Coventry at 9:59 PM on September 24, 2017


Maybe anyone could bang out the youtube frontend given a detailed design for it, but the recommendation engine, the encoding/storage infrastructure, the player? Some rare knowledge and experience have gone into those.

Recommendation engines, with their propensity for algorithmic bias, are one of the areas where the need for developers to reflect the general population is most pressing.

Video encoding and storage is math: signal processing and analysis all comes down to bases and frames for function spaces. We certainly still have some work to do on not driving women out of math, and much more work to do on not driving Black, Hispanic, or Native American/First Nations people away, but I note that half of undergrad math majors are women, and at the professional level we still have double or triple the proportion of women as computer science.

I get that you think you're just defending against the claim that decent programmers are "a dime a dozen",
Coventry, and don't think you're being biased. What folks are trying to tell you is that there is a piece here that you have not understood. Your arguments, in the details you've chosen to focus on versus not speak to, support the myth that programming requires some innate ability or genius, rather than being a teachable or acquirable skill. This is a myth that lots of people also hold about math ability. It is (a) incorrect (see eg. Dweck's work on mindsets, or its application to mathematical mindsets by Boaler) and (b) structurally biased.

Assholes in the workplace are never indispensible, because non-assholes are currently available but not getting jobs in some cases due to sexism or racism biasing hiring practices. And even if one chose to stick one's fingers in one's ears and disbelieve the evidence on that point, non-assholes can be taught to perform the same tasks at the same level as the current assholes; and people who tend toward asshole behavior can also change their behavior to be pro-social given decent management and incentive structures. That is, acting like an asshole is also learned behavior, that can be unlearned.
posted by eviemath at 1:06 AM on September 25, 2017 [35 favorites]


Not sure if this has been posted before, but I just saw this great and relevant cartoon today.
posted by randomnity at 7:51 AM on September 25, 2017 [7 favorites]


half of undergrad math majors are women, and at the professional level we still have double or triple the proportion of women as computer science.
This was not true in the 1980s when I was a math undergraduate! And, at the time, it was "obvious" (in math departments) that women just didn't like real math, and that part of the appeal of CS and programming for women was that it was ... applied. Not, therefore, ... interesting.

(Though, to be fair, more than one math department posted a bit of research finding that female mathematicians had more testosterone than the average woman -- and male mathematicians less testosterone than the average man. IIRC. We didn't expect worldly social success as well as the delights of pure thought: quite the opposite.)
posted by clew at 10:45 AM on September 25, 2017


Your arguments, in the details you've chosen to focus on versus not speak to, support the myth that programming requires some innate ability or genius, rather than being a teachable or acquirable skill. This is a myth that lots of people also hold about math ability.

I'm totally on board with it Dweck's broad philosophy, and do not harbor the beliefs you speculate at all. In fact, I lead a reading group and occasional meetups about Deep Learning (the machine-learning field, not the educational one), where the explicit goal is to bring everyone along and help anyone prepared to do the necessary work to develop the related skills.

But to develop the foundational skills, it does take years of hard work and experimentation with intricate systems, and a willingness to study personal failures in detail and keep trying to do better. Most people, regardless of gender, have better things to do with their lives. I think that's why these skills aren't dime-a-dozen. Nothing to do with innate genius or similarly unfounded ideas.
posted by Coventry at 11:06 AM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


But to develop the foundational skills, it does take years of hard work and experimentation with intricate systems, and a willingness to study personal failures in detail and keep trying to do better. Most people, regardless of gender, have better things to do with their lives. I think that's why these skills aren't dime-a-dozen. Nothing to do with innate genius or similarly unfounded ideas.

Except that we do see that women are willing to put in the work to learn and develop those skills - but not while having their very humanity put up for debate. It's that - not "having better things to do with their lives" (which, by the way, is a very demeaning way to frame this) - which is why we have so few women in software, and why it is so critically important to push back hard on this bullshit, because it pushes people - both men and women - out of the industry.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:43 AM on September 25, 2017 [13 favorites]


I get that you personally believe that your support Dweck's research findings (they're a bit more than hypotheses at this point) and do not support the myth of genius, Coventry, but your arguments, in the details you've chosen to focus on versus not speak to, support the myth that programming requires some innate ability or genius, rather than being a teachable or acquirable skill.
posted by eviemath at 4:01 PM on September 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


How?
posted by Coventry at 4:10 PM on September 25, 2017


Coventry, regarding your reading group, I do not doubt the sincerity of your goal! Based on the details you've provided, your methods appear poorly informed and not likely to achieve your goal very well. For example, I notice your reading list does not include any mindset interventions or discussion of human metacognition, or indeed give any indication of how your group learning endeavour is structured. Your video link appears to be to a powerpoint lecture... not typically a particularly effective format for bringing less prepared learners up to level. Education research (including, in part, the work of Dweck and Boaler) shows that active learning methods are typically much better for that goal. You also do not seem to be well acquainted with Boaler's ideas on fixed mindsets about math and related subjects, and how those interact with individuals' fixed mindsets about their own learning. In lieu of paraphrasing the entire book, may I recommend "Mathematical Mindsets"? It is written for an audience of grade school educators, parents, and students, so will not read like serious technical literature that one should take seriously (this does make it quite a quick read), but note the copious footnotes and references to actual research while reading.

To answer your question "How?": in this thread you have primarily been focused on defending against the assertion that decent programmers are "a dime a dozen".(*) Firstly, this assertion referred to a level of programmers who exist in large enough numbers that their antisocial behavior has broad scale systemic effects, since that is the context of this discussion thread. Programmers who are "any good", not necessarily "exceptionally good". If this is not the group of programmers that you intended to discuss, then you have missed an important point in the context of this discussion.

Second, the context of this discussion thread is programmers who act in sexist or racist ways, that create negative work environments for their co-workers. The subtext of the "dime a dozen" claim was that employers can, indeed, afford (and quite likely even profit from!) to curb this sort of antisocial behavior that harms other employees. Your comments, meanwhile, defend the idea that there is a business case for tolerating widespread antisocial behavior from programmers and, given that you have not directly expressed an opinion to the contrary, imply that there is no business case for requiring reasonable behavior from problem employees. (You perhaps meant to refer only to some very elite level of programmers, but context, as you know or are reading about, is important in natural language processing.)

That latter implication aside, let's investigate the idea that there is a business case for tolerating widespread antisocial behavior from programmers. I'll assume that we're on the same page in understanding that the set of highly skilled programmers includes at least as high a proportion of women and underrepresented minorities as the general population of programmers (there's significant evidence that women and minorities have to be even better programmers than their white male peers in order to be successful, so equal proportion may be an underestimate). So a proportion of those co-workers negatively impacted will be programmers of equal or greater skill than the broken step employee. If it is a sellers market for programmers who are "any good", then why do employers not take better care of their highly skilled programmers who are negatively impacted by the antisocial behavior of their coworkers that we are discussing here? This is not a logically consistent argument.

I addressed your claims about the relative difficulty or rarity of programmers capable of doing good work on a recommendation engine or any signals processing and analysis tasks above. But let's also further discuss the idea that particularly skilled programmers are necessary to develop a good recommendation engine. We've noted the existence of algorithmic bias, and that this can be a significant issue in recommendation engines (as in machine learning in general, as it sounds like you may be studying in your reading group). The implication in your comment, given that you set it up as a supposed counterexample to the claims that sexist, racist, and otherwise toxic-to-others programmers are irreplaceable, is either that white, male programmers with bigoted (demonstrable highly inaccurate) views on women and other racial or ethnic groups and "any good" programming skills are better suited to the task of developing a well-functioning recommendation engine, or that avoiding algorithmic bias is not an important quality in a recommendation engine. The latter is a value judgement, and one with which I would strongly disagree. From your other comments, I suspect you may generally support avoiding algorithmic bias as a goal. But you have omitted any comments on the topic thus far, so it would not appear to be of as significant importance to you. If we agree that avoiding algorithmic bias is a fairly important goal in developing a recommendation engine, then leaving it seems quite clear to me that programmers who are strongly affected by the biases that we want to avoid are not likely to be very successful at that task, regardless of their programming skills in other tasks.

Regarding signals processing and analysis: the relevant coding skills are far easier to learn (far less background to get through) than the relevant mathematics. Grab some female mathematicians (which, as we noted, are more plentiful than female programmers), send them through Google's summer coding camp, and voila, you have significantly improved the gender parity of your set of programmers who are "any good" enough to work on these applications.

In addition to defending the idea that there is a business case for tolerating bigoted and antisocial behavior from a significant number of programmers, you have proposed some explanations for why programmers who are "any good" have a sellers' market for their skills despite these shortcomings. You say that getting to that level of skill requires "years of hard work and experimentation with intricate systems, and a willingness to study personal failures in detail and keep trying to do better." Aside from the obvious point that the programmers described in the FPP are demonstrably not willing to study personal failures in detail and keep trying to do better, at least in the domain of behaving like halfway decent human beings, we again run up against the context of this discussion thread, which relates to the factors contributing to the abysmal numbers of women, Blacks, Hispanics, or Native Americans in programming. If the only explanation you put forth for who becomes a programmer (of high enough level to be in a sellers' market for their skills) is this, then by implication you do not support the idea that other factors contribute as significantly. Evidence indicates otherwise.

I don't have the link on hand presently, but I read a piece on the internet recently discussing the problems with the fatalistic response to injustice, "that's the way the world is, isn't it terrible?", that applies here. I'll try to find it again.

(* The diminishing power of labor to negotiate decent wages and working conditions is a problem in the computer industry, as it is across the economy, and hurts people of all genders and races (in fact, can hurt those in less privileged positions in society in general even more). Calls to view workers in any industry broadly as expendable cogs are not helpful, and I would have a negative emotional response to such arguments as well. Given, again, the context of this specific thread, that's not really what the "dime a dozen" comment was about, though.)
posted by eviemath at 5:11 PM on September 25, 2017 [22 favorites]


Thanks for taking the time to give me this detailed feedback. To clarify, I don't think even exceptionally capable jerks should be allowed to mess up a work environment, though I can see now how you could construe it that way in this context. I wouldn't say it's purely an emotional reaction as you suggest in the last paragraph, though. It really seems like a seller's market, even if you're just "any good." A doctor just told me today that he was charged $150/hour for his website. But that's not a reason for tolerating harmful behavior. It's not just that toleration of harmful behavior is harmful to the harmed — it's harmful to the behaver.

I'll take a look at Mathematical Mindsets. The video is of a programmed exercise where audience members could run the neural net we were studying on their own AWS instances, and then a walk through of the code. I just put the video link at a time point where I was explaining what's going on. You are right that it's very hard to bring people along and encourage them to do the work necessary to develop fluency. When I offer some sort of programmed exercise, maybe a third of the class participates. People seem to love to listen to discussions of it, though. I'm in talks with DataCamp to do a "Deep Learning 202" class for them (audition video) and I'm sure I'll get some good guidance from them.

Interestingly, all of the work I've gotten as a result of the meetups has come from women. There has been some interest from men (slightly less), but so far for projects which run counter to my values. And that is despite the fact that at least 90% of the audience is always male.
posted by Coventry at 6:48 PM on September 25, 2017


You are damned right that there's a gun to the head to be better about gender issues (and wrapping yr crap attitudes in Charles Darwin, and spouting weird praise for the KKK), ya malignant troll-derps
posted by Haere at 7:11 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


The problem with the "witch hunt" complaints in this piece is that witches do not exist.
I don't work in tech but last week I had a male employee file a HR complaint against a female employee literally for practicing witchcraft against him. And I mean "literal" in the traditional sense, not the newfangled figurative sense.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:36 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


I am jumping in with a theory, rather belatedly, but just got time to sit down and read Metafilter after a month of travels.

Everything in the tech industry you're describing seems to be reaching a shrieking pitch. A recent gif I saw from #mgtow had all Indians in the photographs. The hordes of h1Bs and green card holders from patriarchal even more gender segregated societies such as those common across South Asia for instance would have only been reinforcing these behaviours into normative culturally resonant ones.

Bollywood.

The harassment is projected on the screen for the front benchers, as they're called.
posted by infini at 8:58 AM on September 27, 2017


These are people who have been repeatedly told that they are the elect, the elite, and that they are better than everyone, and thus their being told that no, they're just people like the rest of us and thus they have to treat us as people and not peons who should genuflect to them enrages them.


This is also why there's a skew in domestic violence cases particular to IIT guys from India
posted by infini at 9:00 AM on September 27, 2017


One high profile case which actually would be considered mainstream male behaviour in India is that Indian American op-ed guy who shows up everything commentating
posted by infini at 9:06 AM on September 27, 2017


I dunno, that seems remarkably charitable to white American techbros, who appear more than capable of coming up with this type of virulent misogyny all on their own (and the white dudes who propagate this worldview in every other industry just fine).
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:00 AM on September 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


yeah, maybe let's not describe non-white immigrants as "hordes" either, wow
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2017 [4 favorites]




yeah, maybe let's not describe non-white immigrants as "hordes" either, wow

That jumped out at me too, but then I saw the username and recognized that infini (among other things) is an Indian-American mefite from an immigrant family who frequently posts about India and America and the Indian-American experience and social justice and I got past it because there is nothing wrong with being an angry minority and sometimes sarcasm doesn't always come across perfectly in text, especially when people are understandably het up.

vibratory manner of working, that is not meant to be a rebuke of you. There is no reason to expect that every user will recognize every other user and their posting history. And you are also right that people doing the "ironic racism" thing or that other thing where they put words in the mouths of their opponents and end up saying offensive things and telling you that you just don't get it when they call you a slur ("but that's what they would say!") absolutely is a thing and deserves being called out. But I don't think that is what happened here.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:12 PM on September 27, 2017


Yeah, I was married to one of those IIT guys myself and have the scars to prove it.
posted by infini at 10:49 AM on September 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


hordes and hordes of them, visibly changing the landscape of Pittsburgh and its suburbs ;p
posted by infini at 10:50 AM on September 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I just realized that I was talking about how things felt at the end of the 1990s when Y2K was looming and hordes and hordes of body shoppers were in earnest importing the manpower required to turn those zeros into ones in time.

OMG, its a page in history and I'm now officially a forgetful OLD
posted by infini at 12:04 PM on September 28, 2017


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