EppsNet Archive: Women in IT

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 →

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 →

Women in STEM: It’s Ambiguous but You’re Still Wrong

The Dartmouth student newspaper reports on a study finding that gender affects an individual’s perception of women’s anxiety in STEM disciplines. Men are more likely than women to attribute this anxiety and self-doubt to internal factors, while women usually attribute such emotions to external factors. Participants in the study read one story, among a selection, about an undergraduate woman taking a STEM class. In the stories, based on the experiences of actual undergraduate women in STEM, the female main character expressed having anxiety or self-doubt. It was ambiguous whether the instructor in the stories harbored any biases against women. According to research team leader Mary Flanagan, “Women identify the problem as something that is familiar and men identify the problem as something that is a particular student’s problem. Men are not seeing the systemic biases as much as the women are. That is something that we need to address in deeper… Read more →

Two Reasons For the Low Number of Women in Computer Jobs

I saw this chart on LinkedIn with the heading “Chart: Women in tech continue to face uphill battle” and the hashtag #STEMSexism. The first reason for the low number of women in computer jobs is that we rarely hear about women in computing except in the context of pay gaps, harassment, discrimination, “uphill battles” and #STEMSexism. It’s self-perpetuating. “Computing is a terrible profession for women in so many ways.” Followed by “Why aren’t there more women in computing?” You’ve answered your own question. If you think computing is a hostile profession (I do not, btw), why do you want more women to go into it?   The second reason for the low number of women in computer jobs — sometimes the simplest explanations are the best — is that women prefer to do other things. Men and women are different and make different choices about their lives, as a result… 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 →

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 →

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 →

Occam Has Mislaid His Razor

Silicon Valley Discriminates Against Women, Even If They’re Better — PBS NewsHour An academic says that Silicon Valley is “not a meritocracy.” He doesn’t offer any evidence to support that. He just looked around and noticed more men than women in the high-tech workforce. The fact that there are more members of Group A doing X than there are members of Group B doing X is not evidence that members of Group B are being discriminated against in their efforts to do X. In particular, he says that only 3 percent of tech firms in the Valley were founded by women, as though founding a tech firm is a fun thing that everyone should want to do. Founding a startup is an ultra-high-risk activity that requires insane amounts of time and sacrifice. Do you want to have friends? A social life? Do you have a family? Do you want to… Read more →

Free Advice for Women Considering an IT Career

I’d just finished reading another tiresome “why oh why aren’t there more women in IT?” article when I found a former colleague on LinkedIn . . . he lists his job title as “Analyst, Software Quality Assurnace.” Would you hire him as a QA guy? I wouldn’t, and that’s even before I saw how he misspelled “Assurance.” The IT “profession” is chock full of idiots like this. Why anyone thinks women are missing out on something if they don’t work in IT is a total mystery. If I had a daughter, I would tell her to be a meeting planner or a flight attendant . . . Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

Women Leaving IT Considered Discouraging?

Women represent nearly half the workers in the U.S. — 46.6 percent. However, they always have been underrepresented in I.T. Even more discouraging is the fact that the percentage of women working in I.T. jobs is not growing but dropping. — Why Women Leave I.T. Why is that discouraging? Who exactly is discouraged by it? Here’s a simple explanation: Maybe women don’t want to work in IT. Is there nothing more rewarding that a woman can do with her life than work in IT? IT in the post-dot-com era is a stagnant industry. A lot of people in it would like to get out of it, but they need the money. I don’t encourage my son to get into it, nor would I encourage my daughter to get into it, if I had one . . . Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →