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The gender issue in the tech industry

This is a discussion on The gender issue in the tech industry within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Before I give my thoughts on the subject, I'm going to lay out three different news items: 1. Sexism Still ...

  1. #1
    Epy
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    The gender issue in the tech industry

    Before I give my thoughts on the subject, I'm going to lay out three different news items:

    1. Sexism Still a Problem At E3: both genders complaining about 'booth babes'.
    2. Security Researcher Attacked While At Conference: title speaks for itself.
    3. SendGrid Fires Employee After Firestorm Over Inappropriate Jokes: a feminist at PyCon ruins her and others careers because she didn't like a joke about 'dongles' and 'forking'.

    Supplementals:
    Supposed attacker's comments: Fernando Gont's Blog: Lies, nuts, and the quest for attention
    #3 opinions from all sides:
    A Dongle Joke That Spiraled Way Out Of Control | TechCrunch
    MEN-FACTOR: Adria Richards Rips Loud One at Tech Conference
    Adria Richards did everything exactly right Pharyngula

    On #1:
    The complaint is basically against the presence of Hooters-like girls at tech conferences. The argument is that a great deal of gamers are women now, so why are they using women to market their games? I don't really understand the problem here, the majority of gamers are still men. The entire world uses women to market things to men and vice-versa. I don't see anyone complaining about bikini babes at car shows etc. If the complaint is that bikini babes make women in the tech industry look incapable, then prove the world wrong by programming something great, not by crying on your blog.

    On #2:
    Your basic he-said she-said situation where one guy at a conference supposedly attacked a woman at a conference, and as far as I can tell no charges were filed even with the aid of hotel security camera footage.

    On #3:
    A confirmed feminist overhears two men talking about sexual references and decides to publicly shame them on twitter, causing all 3 of them to get fired. At a tech conference or not, men make dirty jokes. As I understand it, there's no indication, even by her, that these comments were towards her, i.e. nothing like "I want to 'fork' her" was said. They weren't even talking to her in the first place.

    My concluding thoughts:
    Having grown up a geeky "beta" male, I know and remember how they think. The basic thought is that if I kiss woman butt and show them how much I respect them, they'll date me. This is exactly what is happening when something like the above comes out in the news: thousands of men blog about how the woman is so right etc., hoping that other women will see that they respect women and maybe they can touch something besides their hand for a while.
    I am so sick of hearing about stuff like this in the news. If anything, the problem is that women like these are using what I mentioned above to gain notoriety and it's actually passing as news. Adria Richards and the aforementioned security researcher definitely have a lot to gain personally by bringing these stories into the public eye.

    Anyway, give your opinion on the subject and/or these articles.

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    the fact that Ms. Richards did not speak directly to the two men in question speaks greatly to her character. she's a passive-aggressive coward, and she literally ruined one man's life. she was directly responsible for him losing his job, and jeopardizing the well-being of his 3 kids. those guys clearly screwed up, but she most certainly did as well. men tell dirty jokes and make innuendo about many things. it's literally in our DNA to attach sexual significance to generally non-sexual things in our lives. the male drive to procreate is one of the strongest forces in the world. I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying that's the way it is, and to change it would take a fundamental change to basic human nature on a large scale. the problem is that if that fundamental change ever happens, we are doomed as a species. Like you said, they said nothing directly or indirectly referencing Ms. Richards, and she could easily have simply disregarded it as so much male immaturity, which I'll admit is something of which I'm often guilty as well. instead, she decided to publicly ridicule them and brag about what she had done.
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    namespace life
    {
        const bool change = true;
    }

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    It's very simple:

    • Women who enter a male dominated field on even grounds and play by the rules are worthy of universal respect.
    • Women who force their way into a male dominated field by whining about "sexism", then try to change the rules to make competing easier deserve no respect, from either gender.

    It's shameful that the latter are the vast majority, they obscure the legitimate accomplishments of--for lack of a better term--"good" women.

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    very well put, sonja, and welcome to the forum!
    Code:
    namespace life
    {
        const bool change = true;
    }

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    Like it or not, we live in a world of newspeak and truthiness. Instead of being honest with each other, we are required to comply with political correctness and etiquette. Truth is irrelevant, appearance is what matters. Submit to your fate, consumer!

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    War is peace
    freedom is slavery
    ignorance is strength
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    I'm at work, so I could only peruse some of the links you posted, but this sounds suspiciously similar to the problems haunting the skeptic community of late. With regard to that movement, it appears the new brand of "feminists" (a.k.a. professional victims)* are causing unwarranted commotion and division in groups, which is setting back the achievements and goals of those groups as a whole. I'm not making a judgment on this particular case, as I haven't gotten all the details, but that's how it appears to me at face value.

    I'm not surprised to see PZ Myers "chiming in" on this, as he's lately jumped on this "new feminist" bandwagon. I recall his support of the whiny "skepchick" claiming to be harassed at a conference, by a shy man asking her to coffee while in an an elevator. Apparently, his offer made her feel harassed and belittled, and she had no problems blogging about this (non)incident. The result was conference rules at certain venues being expanded to police "harassing" behavior, which casts uncertainty on the merits of such conferences, hurting the movement as a whole.

    There's also the recent complaints of one "Feminist Frequency" on youtube, talking about the sexism present in video games - for instance, Princess Peach in the Mario series. Thunderf00t has a great critique of her arguments on this issue.

    ---

    * To be clear, I have great respect for women fighting for equal rights and fairness, and find gender issues to be as primitive and useless as all other pointless divisions - race, ethnicity, etc. However, this "new feminism" I've been hearing about a lot lately make a fuss where there is generally is none. IMO, this professional victimhood just dilutes the legitimate complaints of actual harassment, and is causing more harm than good for their gender and their purported cause(s).
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    Epy
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    All fine points, glad I'm not the only one that feels this way. I particularly like the term "professional victim".

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    C++まいる!Cをこわせ! Elysia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    On #1:
    The complaint is basically against the presence of Hooters-like girls at tech conferences. The argument is that a great deal of gamers are women now, so why are they using women to market their games? I don't really understand the problem here, the majority of gamers are still men. The entire world uses women to market things to men and vice-versa. I don't see anyone complaining about bikini babes at car shows etc. If the complaint is that bikini babes make women in the tech industry look incapable, then prove the world wrong by programming something great, not by crying on your blog.
    I find such behaviour distasteful. Why should you market products with sex? Regardless of where and when it is, it is in my opinion, silly, stupid and wrong.
    Want to sell games? Then go get a big monitor so showcase your game or some actors to catch peoples' attention instead of spreading out women showcasing their bossom.

    On #3:
    A confirmed feminist overhears two men talking about sexual references and decides to publicly shame them on twitter, causing all 3 of them to get fired. At a tech conference or not, men make dirty jokes. As I understand it, there's no indication, even by her, that these comments were towards her, i.e. nothing like "I want to 'fork' her" was said. They weren't even talking to her in the first place.
    I really don't like people making sexual jokes, so I'm going to side with the feminist here. She had the right to blog or twit about it since it's an opinion. This simply goes to show that you should be mindful of what you speak. They dug their own grave, so to speak.
    Can't really say if it was justified or not since I don't know the circumstances. After all, they could just have made some friendly jokes, not knowing better. Anyway, I do not agree with these kinds of jokes and it is my opinion that they should not be allowed. There just are certain things that we take for granted being rude. That's life.

    I am so sick of hearing about stuff like this in the news. If anything, the problem is that women like these are using what I mentioned above to gain notoriety and it's actually passing as news. Adria Richards and the aforementioned security researcher definitely have a lot to gain personally by bringing these stories into the public eye.
    How about giving people the benefit of doubt? I don't like hearing these kinds of stories either, but I do like to hear that people are punished for their wrongs. IF the researcher was really subjected to a rape attempt, then she did the right thing. If not, then the news site really should check their sources.
    I will agree that using such things to get notoriety is bad, but if it's the real deal, then these issues need be deal with, and as such it is good to bring them to the public eye.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

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    I find such behaviour distasteful. Why should you market products with sex?
    I completely agree with you - but the short answer is "because it works." The industry and practice of advertising has long since abandoned even the pretense of respect for the consumer. Exploitation of the psychological weaknesses of humanity has for a long time been "fair game" in the advertising world. And sadly, it seems to largely work - many people either aren't aware else don't mind having their basic human drives exploited in the pursuit of profit.

    What about the "booth babes" themselves? Do they see how they are being used as mere objects by companies who are seeking a profit at any cost? Or are they lulled in by the easy money and easy work, not having the insight to realize that they're sacrificing their dignity, as well as the hard work of other women in history to fight objectification by their male counterparts?

    I'm disgusted by these unethical practices, the willing participants, and the willing subjects (for allowing their human desires to be intentionally used against them). I'm even fed up with the unwilling subjects, as our generation of television-watching, shallow entertainment, and consumerism has dampened the flame of awareness and rationality in our culture, leading to "easy prey" for the advertisers.

    ---

    Whew, sorry about that - this topic touches on a nerve of mine, if you couldn't already tell.

  11. #11
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    She had the right to blog or twit about it since it's an opinion.
    O_o

    Yes. She did have the right to "blog" about the issue. (I STILL hate that word.)

    However, one person's rights ends the second they violate another person's rights.

    She did not have the right to call the men out, by name and face, in a public forum; that was escalation for escalations sake, and as usual with such a mindset, she was punished for it.

    If she, whatever her names is, would have approached the issue with even a sliver of a fraction of the respect everyone deserves the internet would not know her name as a foul warning. She could have chose to confront the men with "Hey! Your jokes are offensive to me and distracting besides; could you please stop?", and you know what? The vast, overwhelming majority of men would have responded with "Sorry.". Okay, fine, you may argue that the men deserved no respect, but she didn't show the SITUATION any respect. She was at a big industry conference, and I suppose you've never been to a big industry conference so let me tell you something: this exact situation and most any other situation regarding the rights, attitudes, and expectations of attendees has rules which must be obeyed for the betterment of all involved. I grant you, the men distracting others and making sexual jokes in public are against those rules. However, she had rules to follow as well; this sort of thing happens all the time and we rarely here of it, but we know of this because no one involved followed rules, etiquette, or even a trivial bit of respect for anyone else involved. She was required by policy to bring such behavior to the attention of staff, but she didn't do that.

    If this woman would have shown anyone, the men, the other attendees, her boss, their boss, the people hosting the convention, the respect she pretends to demand the men would have received a reprimand appropriate to the infraction versus any repeat infractions, and she would not be viewed as a hostile "professional victim", and the men would not have been so harshly punished for a childish bit unprofessional behavior.

    Your rights do not supersede my own just because you are female and I am male. Everyone else involved in this tragedy of poor conduct on all sides deserved much more respect than they got, and that is a shame because it only serves to increase the background radiation of "isms". Oh, sure, the major infractions are still around; I'm sure some transsexual kid was harmed sometime today, but incidents like this that increase the background radiation are still a major source of poison. We can't grow with the people like these men or this woman. Absolutely, the men should have known better. The woman should have also known better.

    Let me tell you something, if you confront a person behaving, in your view, inappropriate with respect, the person will often show you respect in turn. This woman raised the stakes way too high, and if you do something similar, ever, you will too be hated for it. You think this did anything to educate any male who might have been inclined to tell a sexual joke about the reason females have the attitude they do regarding sexual jokes in the workplace? Nope. The only thing most men learned: "Women should not be part of this field.". Don't believe me? Look at this thread: only ten posts at this time and already four smell of an implication that this is just a woman thing.

    Why? Why was any of this escalation necessary? This kind of crusade only makes people who have already been a part of this field feel like the newcomers can't handle it so should stay out. Why? Because she fancies herself a "Feminist crusader out to do justice for females in technical fields."? Wonderful. The foolish "feminist crusader" set mutual respect between sexes in all fields back a few years. Now instead of learning "Why?", a lot of guys are going to treat women with kid gloves. That's not something you want. Treating someone as a pariah "not to be touched" isn't even in the same universe as respect. Instead of appreciating why "sexual jokes" are construed as "sexist jokes", something that takes education, most men will simply stop behaving casually around women in the workplace.

    Elysia, have you ever seen that? What it is like to work in a workplace where people are innately distrustful of others? Where no one responds casually to anything? Where everyone is treating everyone as a source of problems? I have; it is awful; this woman, whatever her name is, has guaranteed that more woman are going to be treated as a source of problems instead of a comrade, a fellow employee.

    The appropriate response was and is, as always, education.

    Anyway, I do not agree with these kinds of jokes and it is my opinion that they should not be allowed.
    [Edit]
    Okay. I want to be absolutely clear about the situation we are discussing.

    The woman in this case was and is a hypocrite. The sexual jokes the men made were childish and inappropriate for the venue. I would never argue otherwise. However, she made jokes of a similar sexual nature multiple times using a public facing forum belonging to her employer. For the added insult, she also deleted some of the jokes she made after her public shaming of the two men.

    Now, I'm not saying you are a hypocrite. For all I know, you would have found her jokes just as distasteful saying also they should not be allowed. She however clearly had no issues with inappropriate sexual jokes: she made childish, sexual jokes of a similar nature inappropriate for the venue. I just want you to be aware that while you may find sexual jokes offensive and inappropriate, she only considered herself harassed by the men making the escalation personal and not for any real cause of feminism. (Which, as I've said many times, would have been better served with education.)
    [/Edit]

    Let me tell you something before I continue, I only value skill, intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom. I simply do not care about race, sex, sexual identity, or anything else that make up a person so long as they know what they are doing, but make no mistake, I absolutely do not care, cherish, or even tolerate your "diversity". As far as I'm concerned, when you come into my field you are a brain wearing a suite made of meat.

    Do you really think "Men in Tech" are sexist, racist, and all other flavor of "ist" jerks?

    Actually, I don't care what you think; men, regardless of field, look forward to the world "growing up" as much as women, but "growing up" doesn't mean abandoning survival issues. Yes, sex is a survival issue, and all survival issues trigger complex emotional responses. In other words, jokes about sex and sexuality are necessarily funny for most people.

    You don't get to say "In my opinion, sexual jokes should not be allowed." unless I'm allowed to say "In my opinion, people who take jokes too seriously should remove themselves from the gene pool.", but that's not a problem for me, and I hate the celebration of diversity, so why is it a problem for you? Oh, don't misunderstand; I pride myself on my ability to empathize and sympathize; I appreciate why "sexual jokes" are what they are for a lot of women. I don't begrudge people their rights to request that I not be a dick, but again, there is my problem with woman finding this sort of escalation "Great." or really anything other than despicable. I try to be a good person, but I'm not very good at it. As often as not, I need someone to call me on bad behavior. (Here is a kicker: I'm more acerbic in real life.) Why, instead of just asking me to be quiet, jump instantly to getting me fired? I'll tell you firsthand, that sort of escalation will be matched with more escalation.

    Soma
    Last edited by phantomotap; 06-24-2013 at 04:48 PM.
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    You do not need to write a wall of text here. We share similar views. I do not know the circumstances and yes, I believe that one should give people the benefit of doubt. My initial reply was only from the view of the "worst case scenario" where she would have had nowhere to turn.
    If that were not so (and I don't know, and I didn't really read all the links, I really couldn't be bothered), then she did a mean thing to someone else and, in my opinion, should have to suffer the consequences as a result.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    What about the "booth babes" themselves? Do they see how they are being used as mere objects by companies who are seeking a profit at any cost? Or are they lulled in by the easy money and easy work, not having the insight to realize that they're sacrificing their dignity, as well as the hard work of other women in history to fight objectification by their male counterparts?
    O_o

    You may be interested in a study on a significantly related issue. I can't recall the name or I would provide it now, but the study is good, and I will try to find it.

    Without going into details, the study focused on the relationship between stripper and clientele. (Those aren't codewords for prostitution.) The study found, basically, that everyone involved felt belittled, betrayed, and objectified by the arrangement.

    I will not spoil the paper on the chance, but I have to reveal one thing: the strippers, men and women, all felt obliged to the social construct despite being aware that, or possibly because of, the clientele finding the arrangement similarly distasteful.

    In other words, it is entirely possible, likely even, that "booth babes", men and women, exist simply because a small minority managed to convince the rest of us it was normal despite almost everyone being against the idea.

    Soma

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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    You do not need to write a wall of text here. We share similar views. I do not know the circumstances and yes, I believe that one should give people the benefit of doubt. My initial reply was only from the view of the "worst case scenario" where she would have had nowhere to turn. If that were not so, then she did a mean thing to someone else and, in my opinion, should have to suffer the consequences as a result.
    O_o

    Fair enough, but I guess, as with Matticus, the entire situation trampled my nerves and I kind of needed to vent.

    *shrug*

    There was simply no reason this couldn't have turned out as a good, solid win for women in the workplace, but instead I've seen men and woman, friends and associates, lose their jobs due to policy changes surrounding this issue.

    That's the reason I harped on appropriate response and escalation so much; the policy changes I've seen have made the situation so much worse.

    Consider this, from a local network services place, bit of insanity: if someone hears a potentially offensive joke and doesn't report it immediately to management they can be punished with the person who told the joke.

    How does that work? You can be fired for not reporting a possibly offensive joke you may have heard?

    Way to learn that escalation lesson...

    Soma

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elysia View Post
    IF the researcher was really subjected to a rape attempt, then she did the right thing. If not, then the news site really should check their sources.
    If she fabricated or exaggerated the claims, don't you think she too should be punished -- socially ostracized like the accused rapist?

    Edited: While I wrote this post, you posted
    Quote Originally Posted by Elysia View Post
    If [..] she did a mean thing to someone else [..] [she] should have to suffer the consequences as a result.
    which is exactly what I perceived was missing. I do believe we share a similar desire for true equality, not just perceived equality.


    Newspeak and PC already perverts our minds enough that we cannot see that genders are naturally equal even while different. Instead of imposing Harrison Bergeron-like social hobbles and limits and rules in order to "equalize" everyone, we could just accept people are equal. Period. No matter what their gender, capabilities, features, or social importance.

    If we apply societal adjustments per gender (or "race" or culture) like political correctness, we are just perverting ourselves. The most important reason is that we still do not have any kind of remotely sane or accurate model of the behaviour of a human being, so whatever adjustments we apply, will be based on at best incorrect and faulty model -- usually the preferences of specific people!

    Adjustments based on statistics are straight from aforementioned Harrison Bergeron, even if they allow for some variance, and in my opinion, are inherently unfair and endangers human (social) evolution. We just might as well pick social rules from a hat at random, and live by those. (Sometimes I think that's exactly what the kids nowadays are doing.)

    I've often discussed multiculturalism with friends. The underlying core problem (with gender issues and with cultural clashes) is the lack of unified set of core rules, that would allow one to safely interact with others, in any situation. The rules we have vary from situation to situation, from person to person, from location to location, and they are already too complex to be handled correctly by a single person.

    Because laws are too complex to be understood without years of schooling, we need attorneys. Now, the intercultural social rules are so complex we need certified social guides to be able to interact with other people without being branded asocial or worse, dammit!

    In Nordic countries, if you are a part of the majority, being politically correct means you either avoid offending anyone (by omitting any details that are offensive to someone), or you interact with each and every person belonging to a minority according to the cultural rules and norms of that minority. In case of an error, even inadvertent, the assumed cause is always "racism".

    In the cultural melting pots, where people from various backgrounds are forced to adopt a common set of social rules, clashes occur within the first couple of generations as the rules emerge and are adopted, then quieten down. (There is often a resurgence later on, when those social rules require changes or are desired to change, though.)

    Simply put, when a person can treat those that they encounter the same way regardless of cultural background, there is much less risk of misunderstanding.

    We need intercultural customs, that are free from newspeak or political correctness. All cultures are inherently complex and detailed at the very limit of human understanding, so intercultural customs should be as simple and direct and honest as possible, so everyone can adopt them.

    The rules also must be simple, and not based on intuition or other social skills, because many humans lack such skills.

    Now, back to the topic at hand.

    In general, the rules for dating and casual sex varies in different cultures, and are decidedly different for males and females in most. I don't know the backgrounds of either person in the original situation, but I wonder why they didn't realize their cultural differences, and be honest about their understanding of the situation? If both of them simply assumed their own cultural rules apply, and that happens to be the cause of the violence that ensued, then they are both .. idiots? victims? Bah.

    I shall now retreat back to my solitary cave, where there is no risk of social interaction, thank you.
    Last edited by Nominal Animal; 06-24-2013 at 05:35 PM.

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