May 2012 Blog Posts
Repost: Technology vs Sexism

I’m reposting about the original that can be found here.

Since I’m reposting it, I obviously agree with it, but let me add my own spin/rant to the whole thing.

To repeat something I posted previously:

“If you are a woman in any industry, and you find yourself going to meetings where the first comment you hear is “Hey babe, nice tits”, run, don’t walk to your HR department. “

Since that could be read as being flippant, let me make clear how serious I was.  Like racism, sexism takes different forms.  Not every form is as blatant as what I mentioned, obviously.  But having worked in IT in general for 15 years or so and in a number of different types of business, real sexism needs to be combated from many angles, not just from a managerial level, but from a personal level as well.

Any company worth anything has to have explicit HR policies regarding it.  As such, any display of explicit sexism should be reported by anyone who either observes it or experiences it directly, so as to let the proper processes take place.  This is, obviously, much more difficult for women who experience it directly, as it involves risk, but is also, from a legal perspective, unavoidable. 

Having said all that, I will repeat that I have not seen that IT is any better or worse than other forms of business when it comes to it.

<digression>As I’ve mentioned previously, I was an HR manager previously and not only was educated in the law in the district I was in, but was also aware of various lawsuits involving then current employees against previous employers involving what I considered not just sexism, but sexual assault, stuff that, if true, was just disgusting.  Not just disgusting, but really depressing.</digression>.

Technically, sexism policies cover both sexes but except for rare circumstances, generally involve women.  Not every complaint that any particular woman might raise is actually actionable, but in this day and age, what is or isn’t actionable is usually clear cut.

<digression>The whole nokiadeveloper controversy is interesting because the person who created the media content that was objected to was a woman.  This raises a whole set of considerations that I won’t cover here.</digression>

From a marketing perspective, even non-legally actionable is obviously an issue.

If people want women to stop being portrayed as sex objects, you are probably going to be disappointed, as there are women who don’t object to this. 

Having said that, any instance of women being treated as sex objects in a workplace environment can and should be combated.

And if you are a guy who can’t hide that fact that you want to fuck a co-worker because you think she’s hot, you’re just a dick.

posted @ Thursday, May 24, 2012 8:57 PM | Feedback (0)
A colorful analogy for bad technical requirements

As uttered today by a coworker (imagine it spoken with a heavy Russian accent, it makes it funnier):

“First they tell us we must eat soup with fork and knife, spoon is not allowed.  Now they tell us fork is unavailable.”

Pretty accurate to boot.

posted @ Monday, May 14, 2012 10:32 PM | Feedback (0)
How not to try and make a point about potential sexual discrimination in Tech

Rob, god bless him, has posted something that, in some way, is apparently supposed to make some sort of point about sexual discrimination in the tech industry.

It’s embarrassingly stupid, but read it for context.

I’ve told this story before, but I graduated with a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the age of 25, and made a horrible mistake.  The graduating part.  The economy was so bad (and ironically, totally biased against white males getting a job in academics due to imposed quotas, but I digress) that I had to give up teaching and get a real job in order to pay off the student loans that started coming due, due to the whole graduating thing.

Anyway, I ended up as an HR manager at a company, and as part of that role, I got to learn a whole heaping hell of a lot about sexual harassment in the workplace, how to combat it, how to set up company policies to enforce combating it, and so on.

There’s this myth that tech industries are somehow more rife with sexual harassment than other industries.  Depending on your point of view, you will either be thrilled to know that it isn’t more prevalent, or appalled to know that it is equally as prevalent in other industries.

<digression>The myth is partially driven by the fact that the ‘diversity folks’, i.e., the people who think that various percentages of the workforce must meet some demographic driven percentages of the overall population, are unable to see divergences through non-‘it must be discriminatory’ glasses.</digression>

One of the things that I learned is that, as good corporate governance, you have to have a policy/program that combats sexual harassment, and that the policy/program is rigorously enforced.  This might seem obvious, but there you go.  This is something a smaller, ‘start-up’ type company might miss.  Large corporations generally don’t, at least not in my experience.

If you are a woman in any industry, and you find yourself going to meetings where the first comment you hear is “Hey babe, nice tits”, run, don’t walk to your HR department. 

But, let’s not pretend there is something about writing code that causes men to behave in ways that are legally objectionable more than the norm, unless you actually have an argument that shows it.

posted @ Friday, May 11, 2012 11:39 PM | Feedback (0)