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67 Responses

  1. robotile
    robotile April 2, 2013 at 10:01 am |

    These companies are a kind of Neverland environment. It’s distressing to go to Google’s cafeteria and see the dearth of women.

    That said, I don’t think that these companies’ policies are actually unfriendly towards workers, at least not in comparison to the general working world. The people in tech I know make something like 7 or 8 times what I make, and in my experience, even the H-1B holders are making 5 or 6 times my salary. On top of that, most of the people I know work at most 8 hours a day, get free shuttle transportation, have unlimited sick leave, four months of paid parental leave, and can work at home whenever they need to. Compare that to my job, where I get 3 weeks of paid sick leave and vacation combined, no paid family leave (or leave at all), and routinely work 10 – 12 hours a day, and it’s hard to work up much outrage about these companies.
    Our economy treats people pretty crappy, and these companies are extraordinarily profitable, so they can afford to treat people a litte better. Should they do even more? Maybe, but they just seem so far from the worst offenders that I can’t work up much outrage.

    The sexism and “boys only” culture for sure has to go — but to me, part of the reason it’s so galling is that these people are treated like kings, and I want women to have the experience of, say, having 5 months paid maternity leave.

    I also take issue with the whole H1-B bogeyman.

    1. Anon21
      Anon21 April 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

      I also take issue with the whole H1-B bogeyman.

      Seriously. It isn’t some deep insight to say that tech companies favor it because it would be good for them, but it’s myopic in the extreme to ignore the fact that these are real people living outside the United States who desperately want to come work and live here. And we’re supposed to think that’s a bad thing because… it will also help their employers out?

      1. seisy
        seisy April 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |

        The problem I have with the HB-1 visa (as it has been explained to me) is that it ties the employee to the company that sponsored them, which gives the company a hell of a lot more leverage over that person than they’d have normally. I’m all for more immigration, more work visas, but without indenturing people to a company.

      2. Creatrix Tiara
        Creatrix Tiara April 6, 2013 at 4:54 pm |

        Yeah I was very confused by the H1-B visa thing. This article seems to imply that the Republicans want the visa restrictions to be looser – but in my experience as a migrant (currently in the US on a student visa, but not a first-time immigrant of anywhere) conservatives tend to be REALLY anti-immigrant. The whole “we can’t let these furrnerrs take our jobs” thing.

        Many companies are more willing to hire immigrants – sometimes under dodgy legalities – because it’s cheaper, but I don’t think they’re also fighting as much to make it easier to bring immigrants into the country.

        1. Michelle
          Michelle April 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm |

          The best reply to this is just to point to the article in the Atlantic on Zuckerberg’s idea of “immigration reform”:

    2. Joe from an alternate universe
      Joe from an alternate universe April 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm |

      It’s hard for people like me, who want to keep careful control on the number of H1-B visas that are issued, to be heard in this conversation. We are accused of being racists.

      I’ve worked in computers all my life, and as a result, have many friends from the Middle East. But as someone who works for huge communications company, I’ve seen hundreds of decently paid programmers and engineers with 10 – 20 years with the company laid off and H1-B programmers brought in.

      We need H1-B visas, but what I don’t understand is with 7.9% unemployment why we can’t re-hire the people laid off first, and train others to work in the computer, or other technical fields. During the tech boom companies were grabbing people off the streets and sending them for computer training – household incomes went up and a lot of people went from low pay, low skill manual work to office jobs. We had a surplus in the federal budget as a result. Now we’re bringing in people to work during a recession, while layed off people sit at home and collect benefits. It doesn’t make any sense. But now it apparently take a Master’s in computer science to help someone reset their password or install some software.

      1. robotile
        robotile April 3, 2013 at 2:26 am |

        The H1-B holders and the existing laid off people are not always interchangeable. They often do separate tasks and have different skill sets.
        but it is sucky that people get the visa contingent on the whims of one company.
        Unemployment in the tech sector is a lot lower than the rest of the country, and in some regions it’s still a tight enough market that it’s actually easier to find someone with the right programming languages/blah blah blah as an H1-B than it is to find someone who has to be trained after 20 years of using C or Cobol or whatever.

        1. Joe from an alternate universe
          Joe from an alternate universe April 3, 2013 at 3:40 pm |

          Hmmm, yeh, well not really. They are bringing in H1-B people to do the exact same work. Most of the one is our company are picking up the exact same tasks as the people laid off.

          And it may surprise you to know that many H1-B people being brought in are CoBOL programmers, while the U.S. has many sitting at home.

    3. Joe from an alternate universe
      Joe from an alternate universe April 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm |

      Oh, and BTW, concerning better benefits, such as sick leave, vacation, and personal days, for working people – a lot of those people who got the computer traning went from having little or none of these benefits to having a benefits package.

    4. PeggyLuWho
      PeggyLuWho April 3, 2013 at 1:50 am |

      The people I know who have worked for Google routinely worked 12+ hour days, and had a burnout rate of about 18 months. There’s a reason they do your laundry and let you bring your dog to work, so you won’t ever have to go home.

      And, yes, at my tech industry job, I do frequently wear overalls to work, my tattoos show when I wear short-sleeveed Doctor Who t-shirts, and we do have a ping pong table.

      And, no, it’s not Facebook.

      1. robotile
        robotile April 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

        weird, all the people I know at Google basically do way less work than me. I find it annoying actually!

      2. Joe from an alternate universe
        Joe from an alternate universe April 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm |

        :) – You young people have it easy today. Not only did we have to walk to work in the snow, uphill both ways, we had to wear a coat and tie (pants suit for the women) every day.

  2. tomek
    tomek April 2, 2013 at 11:36 am |

    articles like this is why males in the tech industry have no interest in feminism. you claim you are interested in womens rights but yet you cannot help yourself from putting many snide comment in your article about how males in the tech industry are not real men. look how many time you use the word “boy” in your article and ridicule there clothes or food or something.

    yes i agree theres sexism in the tech industry. but the regular non ceo non chauvinist programmer guy who is looking to this situation and looking at the arguments, he is going to see you making fun of him and going to say screw to you.

    1. Emolee
      Emolee April 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm |

      So, women deserve equality only if they are nice?

      1. Lamon Blitz
        Lamon Blitz April 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

        From the “the regular non ceo non chauvinist programmer guy” perspective women already have equality, and are asking for privileges beyond their male peers.

      2. tomek
        tomek April 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm |

        you want men to respect women in the tech field, but you see not a problem with calling the men in the tech field, a large portion of who are not sexist, loosers and that they are unmanly, and calling them boys all the chances you get. you want not women to get treated sexist and reduced to their gender role, but you turn around and you do it to guy no problem.

        feminists often have surprise when people accuse them of hating men or having traditional gender expectations from men, and they say no true feminist thinks these things and blah blah blah.

        and then post like this goes on mainstream feminist site. and then people defend it

        you can have either one or the other way. not both ways at the same time.

        1. LJC
          LJC April 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |

          We’re not saying they’re unmanly, we’re saying they’re childish.

          This isn’t a gender expectation, it’s an “acting like an adult” expectation.

        2. tomek
          tomek April 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm |

          dont pretend that gender have nothing to do with this. you expect us to believe it?

          so you would say that female programmers who fit into this culture, with casual dress code and passoinate interest in work also are girl-children who need to grow up? i think you would not.

          it is funny how this “acting like adult” expectation only get apply to guys.

        3. EG
          EG April 2, 2013 at 6:04 pm |

          it is funny how this “acting like adult” expectation only get apply to guys.

          Bullshit. You don’t get to say “I think you would not” and then act like it’s the actual answer.

          Women are indeed expected to act like adults, far more so than men. Look at the different expectations for neatness, for instance, of a single man’s home and a single woman’s home. The price women pay for behaviors thought of as “immature” in our culture is far greater than the price men pay.

        4. tomek
          tomek April 3, 2013 at 6:41 pm |

          Women are indeed expected to act like adults, far more so than men. Look at the different expectations for neatness, for instance, of a single man’s home and a single woman’s home. The price women pay for behaviors thought of as “immature” in our culture is far greater than the price men pay.

          you cannot be serious? so because women are treated unequally in your situation the solution for you is to make it so men are treated equally bad? that is crap method of equality.

          and you completely fail to answer the question i ask. would it be acceptable for article on this site to write of female programmers who have casual dress code, ride bike or whatever as they are childish and need to grow up?

      3. Joe from an alternate universe
        Joe from an alternate universe April 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm |

        No, but questioning men’s masculinity – which the term “boys” in this context does, is probably not a productive way to start a dialog.

        And as far as this is concerned:

        and the dress code of a boys’ birthday party at Laser Quest.

        Wow, dishing on kids to take a shot at tech guys, nice. It’s been 14 years since I’ve had to wear a suit, or at least a coat and tie, in the office, while spending my most of my time in a cube pounding out code. If a female CEO wants the guys to dress up more, she better fork over the money.

        1. Michelle
          Michelle April 2, 2013 at 8:05 pm |

          and the dress code of a boys’ birthday party at Laser Quest.

          I have no problem with the dress code of a boys’ birthday party at Laser Quest–it’s actually pretty close to the way I dress when I don’t have to go to work! My point is that instead of adulating tech guys like Jobs and Page and Zuckerberg for bringing such advances (like the freedom to go to work in a t-shirt and jeans, or to ride a skateboard around campus) to the workplace, we ought to be looking more closely at the politics and economics of their business practices. That’s where the real problems are. The t-shirts and free food are distracting us, as perhaps they’re meant to.

    2. LJC
      LJC April 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm |

      the regular non ceo non chauvinist programmer guy

      As the reaction Adria Richards thing showed, the “regular” programmer guy response was to talk about how “she deserved” the death threats and cyberattacks. Non chauvinist responses were irregular.

      The response to all discussions of sexism is tech/geek culture is overwhelmingly this kind of childish, “I know you are but what am I,” “You just hate me because I’m male” BS. Calling it out as childish is not an attack as much as a basic observation.

    3. RichardVW
      RichardVW April 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |

      articles like this is why males in the tech industry have no interest in feminism.

      You’ve spoken to all of them about this and they are in agreement? That’s good to know; you should contact the major news outlets and give them the scoop.

      yes i agree theres sexism in the tech industry. but the regular non ceo non chauvinist programmer guy who is looking to this situation and looking at the arguments, he is going to see you making fun of him and going to say screw to you.

      That would not make me less inclined to mock him; such spineless fatuity is just begging to be made embarrassed.

    4. Aaliyah
      Aaliyah April 2, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

      It’s quite obvious, given the context, that “boy” denotes immaturity, not a lack of masculinity. I feel that you are deliberately distorting the author’s words.

      1. PeggyLuWho
        PeggyLuWho April 3, 2013 at 2:44 am |

        tomek being tomek.

      2. tomek
        tomek April 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm |

        except in this case your view of maturity is simply men acting like correct men in your view — i.e wearing suit, not having geeky approach to work, and so forth. basically you see men what you dont like, dont find sexually attractive or whatever and you see they making money and having success so you have to drag them down. even if tech industry was not sexist still this would happen.

        1. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia April 4, 2013 at 3:03 am |

          tomek,

          Why do you bring sexual attraction into every article you respond to? Not everything in life is about sexual attraction. All you do is portray yourself as someone who never stops thinking about sex.

        2. tomek
          tomek April 4, 2013 at 9:39 am |

          while ont everything in life is abotu sexual attraction, many of our judgements of others is based on how sexually attractive we find them, this is hardly exciting information.

          and why do i bring sexual attractiveness to response to article? because sexual attractiveness is big part of this article. if there was a field with guys whom look like ryan goosling would it be target for this mockery and attacks by females? i think not.

          for what reason do you think it is that tech industry guys are talked about like this in feminist article? there are many field with sexist guy in it but they are not targetted so. the difference is that this field have unattractive geeky male who dont wear the correct clothes or whatever. on top of this these males are making large amount of money, which feminists would prefer this money is being made by males they find sexually attractive.

          so when males mock females for their lack of sexual attractiveness, this is sexism. but when females mock males for their lack of sexual attractiveness, it is feminism. thats not the equality for which i signed up.

        3. tigtog
          tigtog April 4, 2013 at 7:05 pm | *

          The author of this post said precisely zero about the sexual attractiveness of men in the Silicon Valley IT subculture. You are the only one who has brought that into it, and you’re extending something that was never mentioned by her to be an alleged slur about all men in the entire tech industry.

          BTW, if Ryan Gosling displayed immaturity he would likely be mocked/criticised for instances of immature behaviour. FOr instance, Charlie Sheen is an extremely handsome man, but he’s also extremely immature (amongst other character flaws) and is routinely criticised by feminists for it. Tom Cruise is a very handsome man with some bogglingly strange ideas for which he is regularly criticised. There are many other examples of handsome and wealthy male celebrities who are mocked and criticised for immature and other unattractive behaviours. Good looks (and your assumption of automatic sexual attraction to those good looks) are not the guaranteed free pass you’re asserting they are.

        4. Emolee
          Emolee April 5, 2013 at 11:50 am |

          many of our judgements of others is based on how sexually attractive we find them

          Speak for yourself. I really don’t think this is true for most people. And if it is, well, that is not okay. Also- women get judged/not hired/harrassed/etc. because of their looks way more than men. This has been documented. Just look at the difference between the way male and female politicians are criticized.

        5. Michelle
          Michelle April 5, 2013 at 11:55 am |

          I’ve not really engaged with tomek’s preoccupations with clothing and sexual attractiveness in response to my article, largely because those preoccupations don’t have anything to do with the actual arguments I make in the article. Rather, they seem to betray some more private fixations. And they also threaten to hijack discussion about what is really at stake in these Silicon Valley business environments.

          I can’t think of anyone, male or female, who would not like to have the kind of dress code and playground-like amenities of these tech campuses at their workplaces. The point of the article is that these appealing features–which make it look like these are worker-friendly companies–are distracting all of us from the questionable politics and practices in the boardrooms of these companies that make them really not very worker-friendly after all.They are demonstrably less friendly for women than for men, but in the end, the disposability of employees in the tech industry (especially those in middle or lower rank positions) is an issue for everyone.

    5. Pseudonym
      Pseudonym April 4, 2013 at 1:43 am |

      articles like this is why males in the tech industry have no interest in feminism.

      Some of us men in the tech industry do have an interest in feminism. The ones who don’t aren’t usually reading Feministe in the first place.

  3. Redbull
    Redbull April 2, 2013 at 11:50 am |

    “Maybe what we really need aren’t just feminist businesses, but a feminist economy, before Zuckerberg and other boy oligarchs (think Bill Gates mansplaining education to teachers) turn us into the United States of Neverland.”

    In the tech industry you can’t solve most problems by just complaining about them. You have to do the hard work and find a positive solution. That’s why I don’t think we’ll see a ‘feminist economy’ anytime soon.

    1. EG
      EG April 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm |

      Goodness knows feminists have never done hard work and found solutions. That’s why the landscape with respect to sexual and domestic violence is exactly the same as it was fifty years ago.

    2. LJC
      LJC April 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

      And there’s the basic childishness and condescension that makes Neverland what it is.

      Pretty much all social progress in history happened because people complained about it loudly enough. Working harder to net more profits for a bunch of rich white men has historically not resulted in those rich white men treating everyone better.

    3. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date April 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |

      In the tech industry you can’t solve most problems by just complaining about them. You have to do the hard work and find a positive solution. That’s why I don’t think we’ll see a ‘feminist economy’ anytime soon.

      @Redbull, I can think of at least three interpretations of your statement:

      1. Feminists in the tech industry just complain, while the non-feminists work hard and solve problems.

      2. Women in the tech industry just complain, while the men work hard and solve problems

      3. Both feminists (men and women) and women (feminists and non-feminists) just complain, while the non-feminist men work hard and solve problems.

      Which best describes your thinking? Or is there an additional interpretation that describes it better? Who, exactly, are (unlike hard-working, problem-solving you) the nonproductive whiners?

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl April 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |

        I get the impression that Redbull uses the term feminist as short hand for women who prefer to complain about how much working in the tech industry sucks. See also women who have the temerity to point out the sexism that is so rife in the industry that it acts as a significant barrier to women getting in and succeeding in any way.

        The use of scare quotes around feminist economy also indicates a rhetorical sneering at the term and the ideology behind it. I would love for Redbull coming back to clarify otherwise, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

      2. Emolee
        Emolee April 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |

        I thought he was simply taking a stab at feminists in general (not just in tech) by implying that they complain but don’t actually solve any problems, ergo a feminist approach in the tech industry would not work.
        (In case it needs to be said… I strongly disagree.)

        1. tomek
          tomek April 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm |

          so what this feminist tech industry look like? what you are going to do to guys in tech industry at the moment? put them in suit, force them to live to your limited view of acceptable male behaviour? no thank you to this.

        2. Emolee
          Emolee April 2, 2013 at 6:56 pm |

          tomek, I don’t give a rat’s ass what people wear to work. What I care about is gender equality in hiring, pay, promotions, and opportunities, as well as an atmosphere that is welcoming to women (no sexual harassment, for starters).

          I also don’t have any “view of acceptable male behaviour.” I do have a view of acceptable human behavior, though. And that includes the above paragraph.

        3. tomek
          tomek April 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm |

          emolee in this case i do not disagree. however this view is much different from the one expresed in article, which seems barely to care about creating a good atmosphere for woman and more about making fun of males in tech industry.

      3. Michelle
        Michelle April 2, 2013 at 7:36 pm |

        It’s interesting how political, economic, and cultural critique is often labeled a complaint when it is expressed by women. It’s an easy way to dismiss it, to write it off, to ignore it. Not only is it important to recognize critique as such when you see it, but it’s also important to recognize that complaints themselves generally have embedded within them legitimate critiques of the way the world, a society, a workplace, or a home is organized and run. It requires listening in the right way.

        That said, the idea that somehow outside of the tech industry you actually can solve problems just by complaining is sort of hilarious. I would like to move to that place.

    4. RichardVW
      RichardVW April 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

      In the tech industry you can’t solve most problems by just complaining about them.

      Interestingly, recent research has seemingly proven that leaving an incoherent and ironic complaint on a blog post is the most efficacious of all complaint-based solutions. Experts caution that further study is needed.

      1. PeggyLuWho
        PeggyLuWho April 3, 2013 at 1:54 am |

        [citation needed] …?

        1. RichardVW
          RichardVW April 3, 2013 at 6:48 am |

          IIRC, the research in question was published in the most recent issue of The North American Journal of Applied Sarcasm.

        2. PeggyLuWho
          PeggyLuWho April 3, 2013 at 12:06 pm |

          Bless you for getting that and running with it.

        3. RichardVW
          RichardVW April 4, 2013 at 7:27 am |

          Thanks, it was a good set up.

  4. Michelle
    Michelle April 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm |

    You’re certainly right that these Silicon Valley jobs can be great if you can get them and–even more importantly–if you can keep them. Women are disproportionately not getting these jobs, but no one is doing very well at keeping them.

    Routine and cyclical layoffs are a regular and unfortunate feature of being employed in high-tech, an industry known for its boom-or-bust job volatility, often driven by the rather fictional price of any particular company’s stock. One day there’ll be a swank campus with great on-site shower facilities, amazing cafeteria cuisine, and bicycles available for employee use. And the next, employees are escorted out of their offices by hired bureaucrats (Silicon Valley even outsources its layoff business–think the George Clooney film, Up In the Air) and left with unemployment forms and a grueling–and increasingly prolonged–search for yet another untenuous job.

    I just can’t believe that Mark Zuckerberg’s sudden political interest in immigration issues has to do with anything other than increasing Facebook’s stock value by reducing Facebook’s labor costs– in which case today’s relatively fortunate workers are likely to become tomorrow’s jobless.

    1. Joe from an alternate universe
      Joe from an alternate universe April 2, 2013 at 6:07 pm |

      Spot on! See my H1-B comment above. Working in the tech industry is an incredible roller coaster ride, and it’ mostly heading down the big dip now. I’ve been working for the same huge company for 8 years, but I’m scheduled to be layed off, probably in June.

      1. Michelle
        Michelle April 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm |

        Very sorry to hear about the impending layoff. In the end, whatever perks these companies might offer, they just don’t care much about their workers.

        1. Joe from an alternate universe
          Joe from an alternate universe April 3, 2013 at 4:36 pm |

          Thanks. One thing you learn in this industry is to save cash for the down times. And as one gets older those periods get longer. Most employers seem to think anyone over 40 is obsolete.

  5. Not buying it
    Not buying it April 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

    I believe most people who look at the Techies world from the outside, are unaware of the simple fact that most men or women for that matter that are truly involved in writing the programs, codes, graphics & even hardware design do not have a separation of work & outside social life like other industries or jobs period, our lives are our work, this whole Gigantic industry traces it’s routes & foundation to single Guy’s in basement dwellings, apartments, condos, more recently (relatively) Penthouse’s ,..etc, alone or in groups that lived the same way for the same thing, even today the foot soldiers, inventors & trendsetters have that attribute in common!! , there’s a this realization in highly competitive sectors of this industry that traditional marriage, relationships make you lose your personal edge, any social life that is not centered around work at the very least at the beginning of that career (usually till late 40′s) is a weakness, if you have any doubt about that aspect of industry take a look at relatively unpublished stats about the personal lives of techies specifically programmer’s (men & women), no wonder the average male or female are not interested in that kind of life, in this case more so women who for various social reasons or maybe gender related want a more balanced & separate work & life kind of equation, not that a fair number of males don’t yearn for something like that too, but they tend to see it as not a priority in life specially if you consider the loner, or at least socially awkward at best type of males that gravitates towards it as a source of self validation at least.

    1. Emolee
      Emolee April 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm |

      Because there are not any women who are “loners” or “socially awkward”?

      1. PeggyLuWho
        PeggyLuWho April 3, 2013 at 2:01 am |

        I was with zem right up to that point, too. A lot of people i know in tech, their entire social circle is their co-workers. I know this is just anecdotal evidence, but it’s what I see. A lot of people who work together all day, and then go hang out with each other after.

        But the idea that this is why there aren’t more women in tech is crap. There aren’t more women in tech, because it is, in a lot of cases, a shit environment for women. [/story]

        1. matlun
          matlun April 3, 2013 at 10:59 am |

          But the idea that this is why there aren’t more women in tech is crap. There aren’t more women in tech, because it is, in a lot of cases, a shit environment for women.

          Not the main driver in my experience.

          Even if you go back to childhood, boys show much more interest in tech. This split then remain through education and into choice of career. The pattern is established far before any kind of structured career choice or analysis of the working environment is done.

          Unless we have a drastic change of culture on a larger scale, we will not have a close to even gender distribution within this kind of tech work.

        2. PeggyLuWho
          PeggyLuWho April 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm |

          Even if you go back to childhood, boys show much more interest in tech.

          I was a “strange little girl” who wanted to break and build stuff and catch all the little things and keep them in jars.

          Results not typical.

          I wasn’t clear when I said “There aren’t more women in tech, because it is, in a lot of cases, a shit environment for women.” I meant that not only as a workplace, but as a learning space. I think we’re in agreement, that there isn’t an environment where girls that might be interested in tech are encouraged. I certainly wasn’t, and was constantly being told that the building toys and the video games were for my brother, not for me (mostly by said brother). So I should have said it’s a shit environment for girls and women.

          I still maintain that the reason there aren’t more women in tech has fuck all to do with women being much more interested in a greater variety of socializing.

        3. Michelle
          Michelle April 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm |

          Unless we have a drastic change of culture on a larger scale, we will not have a close to even gender distribution within this kind of tech work.

          The problem is that as soon as someone tries to initiate such a change in culture, like Adria Richards (and whatever you think of her tactics, this was precisely her aim–to help encourage the young girls who participate in programs like Girls Who Code to continue in the field by making the field’s culture more welcoming for women), there’s misogynist backlash.

        4. matlun
          matlun April 3, 2013 at 4:58 pm |

          I think we’re in agreement, that there isn’t an environment where girls that might be interested in tech are encouraged

          Yes, if that is what you are saying, we are in agreement. I just interpreted your comments as referring to the working environment which comes later. There are problems there also, but most girls/women have been “filtered out” before reaching that point.

          I am not sure what the gender proportion would be in utopia where everyone gets to develop optimally, but that does not matter very much. The nature vs nurture debate is an academic exercise. How individual people are actually treated in reality is more important.

        5. matlun
          matlun April 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm |

          @Michelle:
          It is one of the problems, yes. Anyone trying to upset the status quo will meet backlash. The established gender roles are “how things are supposed to be”. You should not try to go against the natural order.

          It is trying, but I think that is part of the human condition and something we just have to try to struggle against.

  6. a lawyer
    a lawyer April 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |

    Judgment of Richards’ response depends on your worldview: Was it an appropriate level of response to ongoing and severe negative experiences, which collectively had a major effect? After all, it’s reasonable to use an enhanced defensive response to a major problem.

    Or was it an inappropriate response specifically to the men in question, given that they were only responsible for a tiny fraction of Richards’ overall gender experience? After all, it’s not fair to place all the blame on the person whose actions were the “last straw;” there are lots of other folks to blame for the camel’s broken back.

    Both views seem perfectly defensible; there isn’t an obvious “right” answer here.

    But w/r/t this:

    Losse rightly calls out Sandberg’s vision as a kind of business feminism that doesn’t look much different from regular boys’ business for girls; as she says, Lean In ”teaches women more about how to serve their companies than it teaches companies about how to be fairer places for women to work.”

    I don’t think this is really accurate.

    Sandberg is (at least in theory) aiming for a sort of equal-opportunity situation, though she does a piss-poor job of acknowledging the realities of gender discrimination in tech.

    Losse is, clearly, aiming to adopt more of a generic social-justice model, in which employees have more freedoms and get more benefits for the same work. That’s a worthy model, but it’s not really related to gender as such: it benefits both men and women.

    More to the point, Losse ducks engagement with the flip side of her own coin: to the degree that social justice IS assigned as a “female viewpoint,” or an outcome of feminism, it has a negative effect on achieving Sandberg’s vision of equality. After all, if there’s a group of your workers who want X, and another group that wants X+Y, employers usually prefer to hire the first group. There’s nothing wrong with pushing for employee benefits, but there’s a real catch-22 when we link increased benefits to gender integration.

    1. tinkdnuos
      tinkdnuos April 3, 2013 at 9:28 am |

      …but isn’t “Sandberg’s vision of equality” precisely what’s being criticized here?

      I don’t think I quite understand what you’re getting at, unless you’re arguing that Losse is wrong about either what Sandberg is literally saying, or what its greater implications are (but that doesn’t seem to be what you’re saying…?).

  7. Michelle
    Michelle April 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm |

    After all, if there’s a group of your workers who want X, and another group that wants X+Y, employers usually prefer to hire the first group. There’s nothing wrong with pushing for employee benefits, but there’s a real catch-22 when we link increased benefits to gender integration.

    But the logic of an economy that will always hire the employee who wants less (which I quite agree is how things work!) is going to disproportionately discriminate against those who perform most of the uncompensated labor (like childraising, for instance) and therefore need those extra benefits. This is also why a job or project will go to a cheaper offshore site if management is allowed to move it–labor now following the lead of manufacturing. My point is that it’s possible to push against this larger economic logic in the first place, and that the resulting workplace would be better for everyone.

    1. a lawyer
      a lawyer April 2, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

      My point is that it’s possible to push against this larger economic logic in the first place, and that the resulting workplace would be better for everyone.

      Yes, I entirely agree.

      Is the need for employee treatment related to gender, insofar as there’s an unequal distribution of non-work tasks? Yup. But if you link “better employee treatment” to gender, then you create a justification for differentiating based on gender (“if you hire a woman, they’ll just complain about the vacation policy, or join that rights-for-female-employees group.”)

      OTOH, if you push for better employee rights for everyone, then the push (which is universal) doesn’t change the employer’s perception of any group.

      It’s complex political stuff though and I may well be wrong.

      1. Alara Rogers
        Alara Rogers April 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm |

        In my experience as the owner of a small tech business, *all* of the men make frequent use of our work from home/flex time policies.

        I would like to see the fight for more work/life balance be repurposed as a fight for the well being of men and women, not something that women specifically want. Make men admit, yes, I *would* like to work from home on occasion, yes I *would* like to not come into the office when I’m hacking up a lung, yes I *would* like to not work 12 hour days and all weekend. Because the vast majority of men in tech would, in fact, like these things.

        Presenting work/life balance as something only women want or need both creates an erroneous assumption that men *don’t* want this, and, because of subtractive masculinity, discourages men from admitting that they do want it. (I think subtractive masculinity is sheer douchebaggery and that men who won’t admit that they want something because everyone thinks it’s a womanly thing to want are idiots, but I also think I want work/life balance enough to try to recruit men to the cause even if they are idiots, because getting some benefit in the *workplace* is a numbers game.)

      2. Michelle
        Michelle April 3, 2013 at 3:58 pm |

        Yes, and to this extent, all workers–men, women, H-1B visa holders, those who want such visas, etc.–would be better off allying with one another and endorsing each others’ demands for better working conditions and benefits. The corporations thrive, and profit, precisely by pitting these groups against one another.

  8. Michelle
    Michelle April 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

    Many thanks to everyone who commented here–I have appreciated the feedback and enjoyed the discussion. And thank you to Feministe for putting up my post as a guest blogger!

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