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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 on Friday, May 11, 2012 11:39 PM Print
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