EppsNet Archive: Diversity

What Can USC Students Tell Us About Inequality?

Well, according to the New York Times, some USC students jet to Bali for spring break, while some of their classmates work overnight shifts to pay for books! Instead of inequality, think of it as diversity. So now it’s a good thing! The Times for some reason writes USC as U.S.C., even though nobody does that. I’ve noticed the Times always measures life outcomes in terms of money, like that’s the only possible criterion. What ‘s so great about jetting to Bali anyway? What are you going to do, lay on a fucking beach? There are 50 beaches within two hours of USC. It’s the same sun up in the sky. You’re the same person with the same problems in Bali as you are here. You jet to Bali, you jet home, absolute waste of time. Read more →

The Moral Compass Oscillates

Following up on the college admission scandal . . . Now that we have faces and names, sums of money, and details on specific subterfuges, the level of anger, shock and indignation is much higher than I would have expected regarding what I thought was already taken as a truism: that parents with money and influence can get their kids into colleges that they couldn’t get into on their own merits. Everyone also knows that students are routinely admitted to colleges based on various forms of diversity rather than on academic achievement. Moreover, virtuous Americans agree that tilting the system in this way in favor of academically unqualified individuals is a good thing. I would have thought that the moral question is whether it’s right to tilt the admissions process at all based on non-meritorious criteria such as demographics, including the demographic of having rich parents. If everyone agrees that… Read more →

Are We Agreed That Rigging the College Admissions Process is a Good Thing?

Outraged parents are filing lawsuits in the college admissions scandal . . . One parent, Jennifer Kay Toy of Oakland, believes her son Joshua was not admitted to some colleges because wealthy parents thought it was “ok to lie, cheat, steal [steal?] and bribe their children’s way into a good college.” She has therefore filed a $500 billion lawsuit (sounds reasonable) accusing 45 defendants of defrauding and inflicting emotional distress on everyone whose “rights to a fair chance at entrance to college” were stolen through their alleged conspiracy. Not reported: where (or if) Joshua is actually attending college, or which colleges Ms. Toy thinks he would have been admitted to if not for the aforementioned skulduggery. There are also students filing suits, alleging among other things that their degrees have been devalued by skepticism over the validity of the admission process. I think these lawsuits founder on at least a… Read more →

Making it Easier for Women to Do Things They Don’t Want to Do

Apple launching tech camps for women in bid to diversify industry Like other major tech companies, Apple has been trying to lessen its dependence on men in high-paying programming jobs. I don’t think “dependence” is the right word there. Is that dependence like alcohol dependence, or like dependence on foreign oil? It’s an oblique way of saying “we’re trying to employ fewer men,” but explicitly singling out members of a certain group for unwelcome attention sounds discriminatory and possibly illegal. Women filled just 23 percent of Apple’s technology jobs in 2017, according to the company’s latest breakdown. “Just” — why do we assume that working at Apple is a goal that a lot of women have? Maybe women found better jobs? Or something else they’d rather be doing? Industry critics have accused the technology companies of discriminating against women through a male-dominated hierarchy that has ruled the industry for decades.… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: All Are Welcome

I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week in a high school computer science class . . . “Computing,” I tell the class, “is like most professions in that some groups are under-represented and some groups are over-represented. You may have heard that the reason some groups are under-represented is because computing as a profession is more welcoming to some people than others. “I haven’t found that to be the case and I’ll tell you why. “My perspective on this is that if you walk through the workplace at a typical technology company, you won’t see people who look like me. I’m too old and I’ve been too old for quite a while now. At this point, I’m usually old enough to be the CEO’s father. “So to the extent that people want to work with other people who look like them and people who fit into the group, that doesn’t… Read more →

How to Not Get a Job Teaching Computer Science

She was a software engineer interviewing for a job teaching high school computer science. One of the interviewers read a question: XYZ School District is committed to effective learning for all students. Key in this work is improving the success of historically underrepresented, low-income and/or students of color. What are your experiences implementing instructional strategies shown to be most effective in increasing the success of these populations? She knew what the “right” answer looked like but after a momentary hesitation decided to answer honestly. “I think it’s probably counterproductive to single out groups of students as needing special handling to be up to the standards of the other students.” “We’re not saying that they’re not up to the standards of the other students,” the interviewer said. “Okay, let me say it another way. We have four labels available: ‘historically underrepresented,’ ‘low-income,’ ‘students of color’ and ‘none of the above.’ “From… Read more →

See You in Hell, Champions of Diversity

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE] I love diversity and inclusion and equity. Why do I love diversity and inclusion and equity? Because they make everyone hate each other even more than they already do. On one side, you have the people thinking “Look, life’s not a fucking fairy tale for anybody. I’ve been eating a shit sandwich every day of my adult life to stay alive in this profession and these narcissistic pricks want to coattail their way in on a ‘diversity’ exemption.” And on the other side: “The numbers prove that these privileged cocksuckers aren’t giving us a fair shake. Fuck ’em. Their time is over.” In fact, “love” is too weak a word for what I feel. I luuurve it! I loave it! I luff it, two F’s, yes I have to invent! Hell is open borders. Heaven has… Read more →

Overheard: “As a . . .”

“As a member of the queer community and a trans woman of color . . .” “Are you the official spokesperson for the queer community and/or trans women of color? If not, that’s not a good lead-in to whatever you’re going to say.”   It’s going to get ponderous if we all have to begin sentences by announcing all of the labels we’re currently assigning to ourselves. “As a white male heterosexual . . .” “As a Gen-X Albanian bisexual . . .” “As an LGBT with PTSD . . .” “As a differently-abled libertarian woman with AIDS . . .” Just say your piece! Some people would say at this point that queer trans women of color should be recognized and celebrated. Would they say the same about a guy wearing a MAGA hat and an NRA t-shirt? Would they want to make sure that he feels safe and… Read more →

Diversity in Tech Efforts Self-Defeating?

Panelists at the Inclusion in Tech summit lamented that we can’t tell if tech is doing better on diversity because the data stinks. My advice would be don’t worry about it. A lot of the noise around diversity in technology is self-defeating. If you’re a member of an underrepresented group, all you hear is that technology fields are hostile and awful and unwelcoming, you won’t be treated fairly, etc. And you wonder why certain groups are underrepresented? You’ve answered your own question. Why would anyone who wants to have a happy life pursue a career beset by unfairness and hardship? Why not instead be a meeting planner or a flight attendant? Asians are overrepresented in technology jobs but that’s a relatively recent development in the history of these fields. I don’t remember, when this transition from underrepresented to overrepresented was happening, hearing a lot about how technology fields were hostile… Read more →

To Young Women Considering a Career in Technology

You’ve probably read a lot of articles about how sexist and awful the culture is for women in technology. I think if anything deters young women from technology careers, it’s this glut of articles saying how sexist and awful the culture is. I’ve worked in software development for 30 years. In my experience — and feel free to discount this because I’m not a woman — the culture is not tough for women. If anything, men give women the benefit of the doubt because they’d like to have more women around. As Holden Caulfield used to say, “I like to be somewhere at least where you can see a few girls around once in a while, even if they’re only scratching their arms or blowing their noses or even just giggling or something.” Yes, I have seen bad things happen to women in tech, but I’ve seen bad things happen… Read more →

We Know We Have to Improve

Saw this on a tech company blog (not Google) : We know we have to improve the diversity of our teams and the balance of representation amongst our colleagues. We do not want to miss out on the contribution of a potential colleague merely because they are in some way different from the rest of our people. Yes, that seems obvious. Do you want to miss out on the contribution of a potential colleague merely because they don’t improve the diversity of your teams? Read more →

One Thing I Can’t Tolerate is Intolerance: The Google Memo

The now-famous Google memo was first published by Gizmodo under the headline Here’s The Full 10-Page Anti-Diversity Screed Circulating Internally at Google. If you’re interested in the topic, you should read the memo yourself, otherwise you’re going to get a terribly slanted second-hand judgment, e.g., “anti-diversity screed.” I’ve read it and I don’t think it’s “anti-diversity” and it’s definitely not what I’d call a screed. I’ve seen that word — screed — used by multiple sources. That’s one way of dismissing and declining to engage with an opinion you don’t like: give it a label like “screed,” suggesting that the author is angry and irrational and not fit to have a discussion with. In my reading though, I found the original memo to be academic and clinical, much less screed-like than the responses I’ve seen. As usual (in my experience), the most intolerant people in the mix are the ones… Read more →

One Thing I Can’t Tolerate is Intolerance: Margaret Court Edition

Margaret Court is being vilified and stigmatized this week — “racist,” “homophobe,” ‘blood on her hands,” name should be taken off the Australian Open arena, etc. — because she opposes gay marriage and homosexuality in general. If you want to position yourself as a champion of inclusion, diversity, respect, tolerance, you’ve got to extend those things to other people as well, and not just people who see the world exactly like you do. You want tolerance and respect for sexual preferences? What about religious preferences? Margaret Court is a Christian pastor. A lot of people believe that God frowns on homosexuality. I don’t believe that myself but it’s not a weird fringe opinion. Yes, Margaret Court introduced Satan and Nazis and Communists into the conversation, but Margaret Court isn’t presenting herself as an advocate of inclusion and tolerance. She’s saying this is right and that is wrong. You can’t position… Read more →

What Can Be Done About Gender Diversity in Computing?

That is the question posed in, among other places, the October 2015 issue of Communications of the ACM. Since gender is no longer a biological imperative connected to one’s physical anatomy, there’s now a simple answer to this. Men (and women, but that’s not relevant to this question) can identify as either gender, independent of reproductive organs and chromosomes, and a thoughtful consideration of the uniqueness and validity of every person’s experiences of self requires a societal stamp of approval. Google or Facebook or any organization that wants to improve its gender diversity metrics can offer some modest incentive (could be financial, could be you use the women’s locker room at the company gym … use your imagination!) for workers to identify as female. Have a 50 percent female workforce by Friday! Now that I’ve written this down I’m thinking that maybe I should be starting up a diversity consulting… Read more →

Carjacking Diversity

Carjacking is like STEM in that it’s a profession in which women are seriously underrepresented so I celebrate this woman as a champion of diversity and inclusiveness. Read more →

When is Diversity Not a Dilemma?

I just read yet another brief — Solving the Diversity Dilemma — regarding lack of diversity in the STEM workforce. If members of Group X are underrepresented in some professions, they must be overrepresented in others. For example, I used to work with a nursing organization . . . women far outnumber men in nursing but for the five years I worked there I never heard anyone talk about the shortage of men in nursing being a dilemma, crisis, etc., or suggesting that anything be done to change it. I work in a STEM field. It’s a good job for me but not for everyone. My son (age 21) for example, never showed any interest in it and I don’t think he’ll be any less happy in life because he’s not working in STEM. There are pluses and minuses like any other profession. Simple but possibly valid explanation for STEM… Read more →

Women Need to Get Into New Professions Where They Can Be Shot

A man in Texas shot two people breaking into his home, which probably wouldn’t be terribly newsworthy except that the two people were both women. Armed robbery is like technology and engineering in that it’s a profession in which women are seriously underrepresented so I endorse this as a step forward for diversity and inclusiveness. Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Diversity for Girls Only

I called the class’s attention to the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing, which honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. Awardees are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education. The website features a photo of a black girl, an Asian girl, a white girl, and in case you’re not in any of those groups, there’s an ethnically ambiguous girl on the left you can probably identify with. Diversity and inclusiveness for all. All are welcome. You still have to be a girl of course, they’re not that inclusive . . . Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Diversity Takes a Hit

They told us during teacher training in the summer not to scare off the students. But programming is difficult. There’s a lot of complexity and detail to master. The first couple of programming classes I took, we started off with around 50 people on the first day, and had around 12 left for the final exam. Entry-level programming classes have very high dropout rates. One of our students dropped the class this week, a girl. So much for promoting diversity in computer science . . . Read more →

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