Silicon Valley Needs To Get Its Act Together On Sexual Harassment & Discrimination

from the this-is-bad dept

You may have heard, recently, about a series of reports about sexual harassment (and general sexism and other similarly awful behavior) in Silicon Valley. It’s not a new thing, but it’s getting a lot of necessary attention right now and it’s seriously messed up. It’s unacceptable. It needs to stop — and people need to speak up about it, and to come down hard on anyone who’s engaging in it or letting it slide. If you’re doing the kind of crap being discussed, stop it now (and go apologize). If someone tells you you’re acting inappropriately, listen to them. And if you see someone else doing something awful, tell them to knock it off and then follow through.

It’s no secret that, in general, I’m a fan of Silicon Valley and the innovations that are created here. Indeed, it’s been argued by some that I’m too supportive of Silicon Valley at times. But, to me, it’s the innovation that’s important, and the way that it can make our lives better. When companies are doing bad things that can negatively impact that innovation, they should be called out on it. For example, a few years ago, we thought it was a good thing that many companies in Silicon Valley got into serious trouble for colluding to prevent poaching of workers from one another. That was bad news, anti-competitive and anti-innovation. As we’ve discussed for years, widespread job mobility is a key component to innovation in the tech sector.

Another thing that’s a key component to innovation? Diversity and a range of perspectives and ideas. That’s one of the (many) reasons we’ve advocated for more immigration for high tech workers and also against this administration’s effort to restrict immigration of all kinds. The basic human issues behind it are most important, but the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives is in there as well. To create better innovations that help the world, we need it to be driven by more than just a subset of the population who come from similar backgrounds.

That’s another reason why it sucks to see more and more evidence of massive, and widespread, sexism and sexual harassment in Silicon Valley. Again, this isn’t something new. It’s been going on for a while. But it’s finally getting some necessary sunlight. It kicked off with a somewhat horrifying post by Susan Fowler about her experiences at Uber, in which the HR department appeared to bend over backwards to not do anything in response to repeated reports of seriously inappropriate behavior at the company. The Guardian has now published a similar account from an engineer at Tesla.

The Guardian also has another article detailing even more horrific stories of totally inappropriate behavior towards women. I’ve seen some arguing that at least some of these claims are exaggerated, but that doesn’t matter and it’s a bullshit excuse. Just the fact that anything even remotely like this happened is disgusting and unacceptable.

Haana was so repulsed by what happened to her, she covered up her mirror so she wouldn?t have to look at herself. The Silicon Valley tech worker said that after drinks with startup colleagues last year, a male executive at her company put his hand up her shirt and groped her while they walked down the street.

?I felt disgusted for months after that,? said Haana, who requested that the Guardian not include her full name or identify the small tech startup where she used to do marketing. ?It affects me on a level that I wish it didn?t.?

I know that this doesn’t happen everywhere and it doesn’t happen to everyone, but it appears to be happening. And if it’s happening anywhere it’s happening too much. The NY Times has a story mostly about the situation at Uber, but it also includes the following anecdote:

?This stuff is deeply entrenched,? Ms. Kapor Klein said, relaying a story she had recently heard about a group of programmers at a different tech company. ?I heard about this engineer who said that what he and his friends do at work for fun is rate women job applicants according to who they wanted to marry, or who they wanted to kill, and there was a third thing.? Suffice it to say the third thing was not the women?s qualifications for the job in question.

You know what the third thing is. It’s a dumb party joke game that has always been stupid in that kind of setting. Bringing it into the office is horrifying. I’ll admit that I don’t get to experience this. I’m a white guy in Silicon Valley. But the more you talk to people, the more you find out how frequently this happens. I’ve wanted to believe that it’s not widespread around here — but that doesn’t appear to be the case at all. It is widespread, and it’s happening all the time. There are just too many stories — and each time it’s allowed, it just enables more to happen. That has to stop.

Part of the lore of Silicon Valley is that so-called “disruptive innovation” sometimes involves breaking some rules, or at least pushing the boundaries of norms. And, for the sake of innovation, that’s often worthwhile. But it needs to be done for the sake of innovation, and it shouldn’t mean that all other basic human decency goes out the window at the same time. Silicon Valley has faced a lot of criticism over the last couple of years — much of it unjustified in my opinion. But shit like this undermines all of that on so many levels. It’s disgusting and inhumane. It’s stupid and self-defeating.

For a long time, I’ve resisted the description many (frequently outsiders) have given to the culture at many Silicon Valley startups and tech firms that it’s a “fraternity-like culture.” Because so many of the people and companies I’ve known are absolutely nothing like that. But it’s clear that some are very much like that — and, no doubt, the success and money and public attention that Silicon Valley has been getting has driven more people to show up believing that’s the culture, and then making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s bad.

It needs to stop. It should stop because treating women that way is just wrong — full stop (treating anyone that way is just wrong — but it mostly happens to women). You shouldn’t need to read beyond that (and you should really know that already). But if that’s not a good enough reason for you (and if it’s not, check your priorities, because they’re messed up), you can pile on many others: a lack of diversity (which goes beyond just the male/female issue) is really damaging for innovation. It leads to less innovation and less interesting innovation. Having a diversity of perspectives and insights is what makes innovation happen faster and it makes that innovation more powerful. You get more with diversity and it should be embraced, celebrated and sought after. You also can get a better understanding of a much larger market. Building products solely from a singular perspective and viewpoint limits who will use your products and how. On top of that, Silicon Valley and many of its innovations are under attack from a variety of different directions — and that’s likely to continue. Giving more ammunition to critics by doing stupid stuff like harassing women and treating people like crap makes things much, much worse. But, again, even adding these justifications seems silly to me, because the first one should be enough.

Yes, people like to make fun of the “we’re changing the world” attitude that is often exuded from this region of the country. But here’s the thing: it’s often true. Many of the innovations from this small area of the world really have changed the wider world around us, and there’s plenty of opportunity to do more of that. And over the years, I’ve met and dealt with tons of people for whom changing the world and making it a better place truly is a driving force. But, there are a lot of people here and not everyone is driven by the same motivations. And some people just don’t know how to behave. If Silicon Valley is going to continue to lead the world in innovation, it needs to stamp out this kind of behavior completely. It is completely unacceptable and it shouldn’t be left just upon those who are the vicitims of that kind of activity to speak up. We should all be speaking up and should be calling out any sort of inappropriate behavior like that.

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Companies: tesla, uber

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Comments on “Silicon Valley Needs To Get Its Act Together On Sexual Harassment & Discrimination”

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90 Comments
Golf says:

It's not just women, it's anyone of lower status; for example, Kalanick of Uber caught on video abusing an Uber driver.

Syndrome of born rich arrogance exacerbated by too low of personal income tax rates.

Do you folks know that in Japan, which I think comparable to US for technology and innovation, that CEOs get only 10-20 times the wages of lowest employee? Instead of 1000X we allow here.

And what have we gotten from, say, Bill Gates that he wouldn’t have done for 1000X less? Too much money changed him from well-intentioned nerd to evil tyrant. It’s inevitable when get too rich..

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: It's not just women, it's anyone of lower status; for example, Kalanick of Uber caught on video abusing an Uber driver.

Gate’s CEO salary is orthogonal to the point being made, AC, whether you agree with it or not; being in a rarefied privileged position due to having colossal amounts of money either encourages you to be an arrogant jerk or it doesn’t.

I’d say it’s down to attitude; people inclined to be jerks will be jerks whether they are rich or not. It’s more about power and privilege than money.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Silicon Valley tech worker said that after drinks with startup colleagues last year, a male executive at her company put his hand up her shirt and groped her while they walked down the street.

That’s sexual assault Haana, you report that to the police not The Guardian. FFS if people like that are not punished they will continue to do what they are doing to the next person down the line.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re:

Sounds fabricated.
“put his hand up her shirt and groped her while they walked down the street.”

Picture the contortion-esque maneuver to pull that off.
Groped? As in continuing? Not he went for my blouse and I told him to F Off? Walking down the street?

I am not saying it doesn’t happen. I think it’s also used for revenge.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If she reported it, she would most likely be punished by the company somehow, like being denied promotion. Even if she quits, she may find herself blacklisted by other companies. That’s what allows this kind of culture to flourish–women are forced to choose between their jobs or their dignity, and reality often necessitates they choose their jobs.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The blowback in the aftermath of making the report might cause problems for her down the line. We banter a lot at work and I’m surrounded by guys but they know how to behave. If one of them did get all grope-y I know I’d get support from my managers if I reported it because that’s our culture.

What happens when there’s not a culture of stamping hard on discriminatory or abusive conduct? I repeat, nobody would dare to behave like that where I work and we have a lot of banter in the office; we tease each other all the time.

Rick says:

Almost every story of sexism in Silicon Valley that I’ve heard has been the actions from the business side of things. Primarily marketing and management. Every so often I’ve heard of sexism from an engineer or programmer, but it’s relatively rare.

But here’s the thing – Silicon Valley is known for its nerds. Its geeks. Its programmers and engineers. Which is why I get depressed at reading articles like this. The problem is overwhelmingly on the Business Administration side of things but programmers and engineers get the lions share of the blame and retaliation.

Mike – it may not be very visible from your vantage point, but there’s been a witch hunt for sexism that has destroyed careers of good people and has made tens of millions more miserable and afraid. Bullies come in all forms – even ones with good intentions but extremely poor targeting.

anon359 says:

Re: witch hunt

You got that right. Yes, there is (rare) sexism out there, but the ‘sexual harassment’ law is outrageous cultural warfare against men and needs to go away. Why should we have to put up with women’s endless misandrist gossip but never be allowed to create a ‘locker room atmosphere’ anywhere? The snowflake movement is behind this crap, and if they continue to get their way it will soon be a full Chinese ‘cultural revolution’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: witch hunt

“Yes, there is (rare) sexism out there,”

Well – I’m glad you are capable of acknowledging this, albeit your claim that it is “rare” is incorrect. Perhaps it is your definition of the term that would explain why you think it is rare when in fact it is ubiquitous. For example, harassment is not equal to assault.

“cultural warfare against men”

Bullshit

So … “women’s endless misandrist gossip” by default allows you to engage in “a ‘locker room atmosphere'”? What a childish response, even if it were the case – this is a very immature way to handle the situation, perhaps you should grow up and start acting like an adult.

“snowflake movement “

Not sure what this even is, other than a catchall phrase to use when others disagree. How is anyone supposed to understand your complaints when you use such nebulous phases. Be specific.

” Chinese ‘cultural revolution’.”

Again … wtf is this?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I unironically used the phrase witch hunt to refer to non-sexist men and women who have lost their careets, homes, or even committed suicide due to neurotic sociopaths that see sexism even where it doesn’t exist.

Also, apparently some guys think it’s okay to scare a woman’s employer out of assigning her any hours. Because a woman can have internalized misogyny and needs guys to punish her for it, I guess.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You’re going to have to provide some evidence that this problem is somehow more prevalent than the problem of sexism against women. It seems like you’re arguing that we shouldn’t try to fix the issue we’re presented with because it causes another issue – which may be true, but the issue it causes is in such massively smaller scope that it’s kind of a silly argument to make.

Show us some numbers.

And not that my anecdotal story matters, but I was fired last year – unfairly – because my female boss was clearly sexist against men. She “just didn’t trust me” even though I was an exemplary employee, and she has only promoted women before or since. There’s only two ways to resolve that – push for women to have less power so they can never do that to a man, or push for MORE gender equality by recognizing that we aren’t there yet, so that guys like me can call her out on it fairly. Or am I missing a third option?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Would it have helped you to understand what I was doing up there if I had added “INB4” to the beginning of the post? I didn’t think that was necessary here, but I underestimated the ability of some people to ignore a counterpoint by redirecting the conversation…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You’re going to have to provide some evidence that this problem is somehow more prevalent than the problem of sexism against women. It seems like you’re arguing that we shouldn’t try to fix the issue we’re presented with because it causes another issue – which may be true, but the issue it causes is in such massively smaller scope that it’s kind of a silly argument to make

This isn’t the Oppression Olympics. Also, why not try reading my post before responding to it next time? You might have seen that my example was of sexism against a woman.

I don’t much care for people like you. My goodwill has been burnt out from gender politics extremists over the past few years. I’ve seen many real victims and a handful fake victims. Real victims almost never get a spot on the news. They’re intimidated into silence as they try to piece their lives back together.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It’s the context – it’s not just what you said, it’s when and where you chose to say it.

The fact that you included women in the charge of “fake sexism is a problem so we shouldn’t battle sexism” doesn’t make it any more appropriate a comment to make here, and you haven’t supported the comment by attacking me (as a person) for making a counter-argument.

I’m sorry the person you think I am has upset you by trying to have a discussion on a website.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Also, if you had read my post instead of jumping to defensiveness, you might notice I said “seems” and asked you to clarify how I was mistaken. Instead you chose to attack my person and use some ridiculous hyperbolic phrase, which… doesn’t really expound on what you were trying to say.

I was explaining to you my understanding of what you said, and why I came to that conclusion, so that you could formulate a response. Your response has clarified a few things, but I don’t think they were the things you wanted to clarify.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

My original point was being critical of Mike Masnick blaming “Silicon Valley” in his headline rather than laying the blame primarily where it should be laid at – business management and advertisers.

As for you – I’m critical of you because your answer to “nerds are scapegoated by news outlets and bullied by extremists” is “it’s for the greater good!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If this is an article about fixing the problem of sexism against women in Silicon Valley, how is it relevant to start talking about the problem of non-sexist men and women losing their jobs? They aren’t the same thing. One is sexism, one is poor management. By bringing it up here you’re implying that we shouldn’t prevent sexism because there are bad managers out there.

Shouldn’t we be working to recognize and prevent both? They aren’t mutually exclusive.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's not just women, it's anyone of lower status; for example, Kalanick of Uber caught on video abusing an Uber driver.

Syndrome of born rich arrogance exacerbated by too low of personal income tax rates.

Do you folks know that in Japan, which I think comparable to US for technology and innovation, that CEOs get only 10-20 times the wages of lowest employee? Instead of 1000X we allow here.

And what have we gotten from, say, Bill Gates that he wouldn’t have done for 1000X less? Too much money changed him from well-intentioned nerd to evil tyrant. It’s inevitable when get too rich.

— 2nd attempt, I was first in but blocked by the alleged “moderation”.

Nilt (profile) says:

I say this as a professional geek myself. It’s long past time we started rooting out this sort of BS. Breaking rules is not somehow inherently good. While some deserve to be abandoned, by and large we have rules in society for damned good reasons. All it takes is to witness the cluster-fuck that is Uber to see what ignoring the rules in the interest of money does. Silicon Valley is not some paragon of virtue. Sure, there are some great folks there many of whom do cool stuff, but they need to wake up and realize they do not live in their own little bubble of reality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What is really stupid is that from what I read it sounds like Uber actually tossed away good employees because of this. That just doesn’t make any sense from business side of things.

If I am running a business like that I wouldn’t care at all if your male, female, whatever you want to call yourself. If your great at your job I would be seriously pissed to find out someone ran you off because they couldn’t act like a professional.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Oh, good. One of the “bully nerds for the greater good” people. I was worried we might get one of those.

I have a friend who has experienced horrible sexism in Silicon Valley from an unofficial recruiter who works at a very popular tech firm named after a fruit. As I’ve seen what happened to her, I have much greater context as to what needs to change in order to stop it. I can’t say that about most of the crap I’ve heard.

The longer this goes on, the less I’m going to care about what you and those like you have to say. Which is a shame as I know sexism against women happens and I want it to stop. But unfortunately the vast majority of suffering I’ve seen has been collateral damage from very poorly targeted initiatives to stop sexism. It’s grade school bullying brought to adulthood.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I know sexism against women happens and I want it to stop. But unfortunately the vast majority of suffering I’ve seen has been collateral damage from very poorly targeted initiatives to stop sexism.

lol no. You must be the kind of person who truly believed 2001 was the Summer Of The Shark, and I bet you play the lottery too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I said “from what I’ve seen”. I don’t see everything. Regardless, I’ve seen enough suffering from very poorly targeted initiatives that I am wary of people who are interested in minimizing the collateral damage caused by the zealous fight to purge Silicon Valley, tech, and social media of sexism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Amazing how you’ve zeroed in on the small problem that requires nothing from you, and used it to justify ignoring the bigger problem that you might actually be a part of. How convenient for you! I mean seriously, what a stroke of luck – I was worried that society might actually have to address rampant, pervasive sexism. But your strategy of holding women hostage and refusing to seriously acknowledge the challenges they face until they guarantee that there will be absolutely zero chance of any accidental negative fallout from doing so is, quite frankly, brilliant. What a weight off my conscience!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Cry me a river. I’ve had a female friend go homeless for four months, another end up in the hospital with a cardiac arrest after 6 months of blackmail, coercion, and death threats to his family, and a female acquaintence jump in front of a train to kill herself in part because of this McCarthyist witch hunt.

My bar for caring rose immensely after my acquiantance committed suicide. I no longer care about anyone who demands my respect and fealty. I’ve seen where that route goes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Frankly I don’t believe you. And even if I did, this is an absurd way to try to make a point.

You can’t just show up anonymously in a conversation, say "you’re all wrong" and then have your reason be "because here’s a litany of supposedly related personal tragedies".

Honestly, if you are telling the truth, then it’s kind of disgusting how you’re exploiting your friends’ tragedies for the sake of trolling an article about fighting sexism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Why can’t I? Why am I not allowed to reference the tragedies undertaken by extremists proclaiming to fight for gender equality?

From the men who attack women whom the men proclaim have “internalized misogyny”

Or the FOSS activists who got on the wrong side of opportunistic sociopaths who pick arbitrary targets in their zeal to show they’re “tough on sexism”.

Or the suicidal woman who was tipped over the edge when her support network had been thrown into chaos and fear by cliques of rich San Franciscan white guys who claimed the best way to make tech and gaming more inclusive to women was to get anyone who disagreed with their brand of social justice rhetoric fired from their jobs.

—-

What I am doing is no less disgusting than what you or anyone else does in referencing what has happened to others. I have seen enough pain and suffering that I refuse to stay silent when activists blithely hurt innocents and sexists alike without meaningful distinction.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Rather than arguing about it why not come up with some solutions?

Sexism is a twofold problem: 1) a lack of good manners and self-restraint, and 2) the continuation of the belief that women are less competent than men are at anything that doesn’t involved bearing and rearing children and keeping house.

Where extremism is concerned, some people are over-reacting to sexism to the point where cat-calling is considered an assault rather than a nuisance. We need to call things what they are instead of nuking All The Things!

Men DO get treated badly for gender politics reasons; I’m friendly with a woman who is friendly with radical feminists and retweets them all the time. We can’t deny that some of the statements these people come out with are outrageously unfair. However, it doesn’t mean that many of their complaints aren’t valid; they actually are. Unfortunately the shrill cries of “Wolf! Wolf!” at the slightest sight of a shadow tends to make it hard to take them seriously even when they’re actually right.

I believe it’s worth collecting and collating statements (and backing them up with evidence where possible) about sexism on both sides in Silicon Valley, then putting together a plan to effectively combat it without resorting to culture wars tropes and wedge issues. Is that reasonable?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

“Rather than arguing about it why not come up with some solutions?”

I’d love to. I really would. People are getting hurt and most of the real victims on all sides don’t get publicity.

“Sexism is a twofold problem: 1) a lack of good manners and self-restraint”

What are considered good manners is dependant on context, no? Or are you referring to very obvious things such as groping a coworker/employee?

“2) the continuation of the belief that women are less competent than men are at anything that doesn’t involved bearing and rearing children and keeping house.”

In my twenty-five years in tech subcultural circles, I’ve thankfully never encountered this worldview outside of a few isolated nutjobs. That said, I’ve sadly seen a few examples of said nutjobs in commercial tech over the past several years. I have no love for them.

“Where extremism is concerned, some people are over-reacting to sexism to the point where cat-calling is considered an assault rather than a nuisance. We need to call things what they are instead of nuking All The Things!”

There is that, sure! The extremism I have more experience with is a female friend living out of her car for several months, industry blacklisting of a good person (who spent his money and time for years helping women in tech before it was cool) by a con artist, and worse.

“However, it doesn’t mean that many of their complaints aren’t valid; they actually are. Unfortunately the shrill cries of “Wolf! Wolf!” at the slightest sight of a shadow tends to make it hard to take them seriously even when they’re actually right.”

Having seen wolf criars and having seen wolves, I agree it’s very tragic. This will only result in good people getting hurt – especially women who won’t have their legit c.

“I believe it’s worth collecting and collating statements (and backing them up with evidence where possible) about sexism on both sides in Silicon Valley, then putting together a plan to effectively combat it without resorting to culture wars tropes and wedge issues. Is that reasonable?”

Certainly. Just keep in mind that the main grievances I have aren’t from the “sexism against guys” camp – it’s the bullying of nerds of all genders.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

What are considered good manners is dependant on context, no? Or are you referring to very obvious things such as groping a coworker/employee?

Very obvious things such as groping or saying something someone finds offensive, they tell you it’s offensive, and you tell them they’ve got no sense of humour.

Certainly. Just keep in mind that the main grievances I have aren’t from the "sexism against guys" camp – it’s the bullying of nerds of all genders.

There appears to be an anti-knowledge culture in which ignorance is celebrated, and I find that disturbing. One of the funnier iterations (unless you look sorta South Asian, in which case you’d be pretty naffed off) is where white folks walked up to random people of South Asian extraction, bowed, and said, "Konichi wa." Then, when the deeply offended Chinese or Korean, etc., walked off in a huff, the speaker proclaimed, "I’m just trying to be polite" while being incredibly rude in at least two ways. I mean, "Hee hee, all you yellow people look the same to me!" is pretty damn rude, isn’t it? That’s the net effect when one does that. The point is, there’s a certain chauvinism that certain groups indulge in and their targets are pretty much anything that’s not them. They don’t even seem to realise they’re doing it. This is not even a nerd thing, it’s a chauvinism thing and it’s not even a right-wing thing, the people doing the "Konichi wa, just trying to be polite, Korean guy!" would tell you they are liberal.

If chauvinism is the problem, that’s where we start. I recommend promoting a culture in which ignorance is not celebrated, it’s treated with the greatest disdain. Imagine where we’d be if we refused to tolerate ignorance. Protip: when greeting people of a different ethnic origin, a simple "Good morning/afternoon/evening" is sufficient. That I even felt the need to type that…!

But there you go: chauvinism is a widespread problem and we need to call it out where we see it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Top executives can often be the worst offenders

The Silicon Valley tech worker said that after drinks with startup colleagues last year, a male executive at her company put his hand up her shirt and groped her while they walked down the street.

This unfortunately doesn’t surprise me one bit.

My father’s an engineer who worked his way very high up at one of his old companies. And he said the language the top executives regularly used to talk about their female employees (especially their secretaries) was really crude and vulgar, and stuff he never heard from the lower ranking people.

Other lower ranking employees often know they can’t away with such things, but executives are more likely to just not care or know full well they can often get away with it because of their position of power.

Impatient old guy. says:

Gender equality is a farse today

For all the talk of gender equality, it doesn’t exist. People come in all sizes, shapes and abilities. If she is better for the job then let her have it, if he is better for the job then let him have it, but don’t go down the road of forcing a lessor (male or female) into that job just because of some distorted idea of gender equality.

I have worked with both men and women over many long years and have seen talented people (both men and women) lose out due to intolerances in those making the decisions.

A very wise woman (who was store manager at a major chain) once said to me that though there was a class ceiling through which she could not go, as she was in charge of training future managers, she would do the best possible job to train them (males) to be the best they could be (including training them to get the best staff/managers themselves, irrespective of male/female differences).

I have seen arrogance/sexism from both men and women and it isn’t pretty. If you are suitable for the job, whether you are male or female shouldn’t matter. If you are not suitable for the job, whether you are male or female shouldn’t matter.

This push for gender equality is only going to cause more problems in the longer term than it solves.

And for Leigh, a long discussion on how it impacts men should be undertaken as that is where the solution lies (for all your sarcasm). If men are treated as the bogey men and the problem then nothing will be solved. Whether you or anyone likes it or not, women have as much if not more influence on the next generation than do men. It is about using that influence correctly to engender change for the better.

But, of course, being a mother is a low grade task and we should be letting women be anything but. Go figure, one of the most important jobs being treated as the least important.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Gender equality is a farse today

If she is better for the job then let her have it, if he is better for the job then let him have it, but don’t go down the road of forcing a lessor (male or female) into that job just because of some distorted idea of gender equality.

The engineer at Uber was literally told by the company’s HR that "some genders and ethnic backgrounds are more suited to some professions" and thus she should not be surprised by the lack of gender equality in engineering.

Real and blatant sexism is happening right in front of your face, but you’re much worried about the vague possibility of some reverse-sexism slipping through?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Gender equality is a farse today

Yeah, Leigh, you got it right. For all your foreigner shaming of American values, none of us really give a crap about your globalist/socialist judgments about how American men and women work out their relationships, which they do (mostly) successfully every day without your unwanted and unneeded advice. Go worry about your own people in your own country, loser. You’re such a keener.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Gender equality is a farse today

Well this condescending git can only say that you haven’t a clue of the full effects and how prevalent sexism is throughout society (committed by both men and women). There are many areas where sexism so effects men that the next generation is forced into continuing the cycle of abuse. The gender equality movement has so distorted what a man and a women should be and could be that men are now considered automatically as fiends to be monitored and avoided.

Certainly, there are major problems in many areas. but what a lot of people haven’t considered is that there is various backlashes against the outworking of the gender equality movement (by both men and women) because it has lost its way.

As far as engineering and associated professions and trades are concerned, I don’t give a damn whether you are male or female when doing the job. I am only concerned about whether you can do the job well. I, personally expect, each person to treat their peers with respect, including, no swearing and coarse language, no sexual innuendos, no off-colour jokes, etc.

If you cannot maintain a high level of decorum, you are already heading towards a dysfunctional workplace and no amount of gender equality will help you better the place.

Finally, of course sexism affects women, but adults recognise that women are only one half of the situation and adults recognise that you have to include the effects on men to be able to find a workable solution.

It is people like yourself that have forgotten that society is made of many different groups.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Gender equality is a farse today

Well this condescending git can only say that you haven’t a clue of the full effects and how prevalent sexism is throughout society (committed by both men and women). There are many areas where sexism so effects men that the next generation is forced into continuing the cycle of abuse. The gender equality movement has so distorted what a man and a women should be and could be that men are now considered automatically as fiends to be monitored and avoided.

Certainly, there are major problems in many areas. but what a lot of people haven’t considered is that there is various backlashes against the outworking of the gender equality movement (by both men and women) because it has lost its way.

As far as engineering and associated professions and trades are concerned, I don’t give a damn whether you are male or female when doing the job. I am only concerned about whether you can do the job well. I, personally expect, each person to treat their peers with respect, including, no swearing and coarse language, no sexual innuendos, no off-colour jokes, etc.

If you cannot maintain a high level of decorum, you are already heading towards a dysfunctional workplace and no amount of gender equality will help you better the place.

Finally, of course sexism affects women, but adults recognise that women are only one half of the situation and adults recognise that you have to include the effects on men to be able to find a workable solution.

It is people like yourself that have forgotten that society is made of many different groups.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Gender equality is a farse today

It’s not the push for equality that’s the problem, AC, 3 Mar 2017 @ 9:44pm. Per your own post it’s the over-compensation efforts that makes the mess.

If you have a problem with equality, I can’t help you; I refuse to be anything but equal.

The drive for equality in my workplace has been mostly beneficial; men get paternity leave. I’ve just seen my colleague return full of joy after the birth of a healthy girl because he got to spend her first few weeks with her. Women are more likely to stay off longer for a variety of reasons but that’s down to biology. I can’t see actual equality (as opposed to wrong-headed attempts to compensate) as a problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Gender equality is a farse today

The problem is not gender equality but compensatory gender equality, or for that matter, any compensatory equality. Special treatment for any group because of “equality” problems only creates more and different problems in the longer term (including backlash problems).

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Gender equality is a farse today

Oh, I am sure these ones haunt such blog communities. They pop in elsewhere whenever they feel their voices need to be heard. Because any slight shift of focus toward fairness to the less privileged persons needs to be immediately “balanced” by the voices which are so silenced that they have been pretty much the only ones that count for the last 8-10ky.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey, Michael Malice, just one comment – you’re an idiot! “When companies are doing bad things that negatively impact innovation”? Are you kidding? How sexual/social behavior impacts innovation is a huge stretch, don’t you think? Do you actually know anything about innovation? Have you ever innovated anything, your writing sure doesn’t show it. Same tired shit published a hundred places. “Widespread job mobility is a key component of innovation”? Again, are you kidding? Your socialist/globalist masters convince you to spew this garbage on their behalf, and frankly’ its laughable. Innovate some writing, Michael Malice!

Anonymous Coward says:

Basic problem is tfat tech is populated by generally immature men, the type who spent more time with their computers than anything else. These are low social skill, low experience with eomen types who are suddenly forced into schmoozing, with piles of money in their pockets and a sence of power.

Quite simply, tech is a sausage fest. It’s not a frat house because mosy frat boys csn at least get some.

Tgen again, techdirt is a sausage fest as well. No female writers, slmost no female contributors, and a willingness to tolerate almost any behavior in the nsme of innovation.

How about techdirt sctuvely looking for femsle writers?

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re:

How about more female writers coming forward with ideas for articles? Being a regular commenter gives the admins an idea of what they’re write about and how.

I got a few writing gigs here myself while I was doing web design back in the day. I switched careers due to facilities management administration paying more (and regularly!) so I haven’t got the time to put into doing that any more.

The lack of women writers on TD seems more to be about the fact that the readership is mostly male and few of the female readers identify themselves as such. I could only mention two off the top of my head. That said, I’ve always felt welcome here and gender has never been an issue as far as I’m concerned. Let any woman who wants to write for TD post comments that showcase her intelligence and grasp of the subject. Surely her talent will be recognised. Mine was.

Anonymous Coward says:

First off the title: it’s clickbait in it’s worst form. It implies that all of "Silicon Valley" (which these bad actors aren’t a part of) is like this when it isn’t. Everything you cited in the article came from executives and people on the business side of things but the title itself tries to apply the guilt of these bad actors to the entire industry, whether that was the intention or not. I have seen nothing but condemnation for these actions, including here.

I also see concern that this could lead to a reignited sexism moral panic, which is understandable. I’ve seen the fallout from the last few times this has happened. A woman who defended people who she saw as being unfairly labeled as sexist having her personal info dropped online, leading to her being fired. Another woman being sent hate mail celebrating her husband’s late stage cancer and that they’re glad she’ll be a widow soon because he’s "sexist". There are other examples, but this is getting long enough as it is. Rooting out sexism is good. Moral panicking and ruining people’s lives over unfounded accusations and guilt by association is not.

One last thought: moral panicking has lead to worse treatment of women in tech.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Putting “IMHO” doesn’t make an opinion worth paying attention to, but I’ll bite. As my wise fellow readers have often pointed out, when you’re that far right, everything else is leftist.

American business and society can’t function efficiently if grabbing women by the ***** is the order of the day, capiche? As for Open Source, that’s about as free market and voluntary as it’s possible to be; nobody’s putting fences and tollbooths on innovation and nobody is being forced to give up anything for free, it’s a choice.

Go and learn what words mean instead of displaying your ignorance here in the comments.

My_Name_Here says:

Held for moderation, take that into consideration

This comment will be held for moderation, so take that into consideration if it appears to be out of step with the discussion. Quite simply, I am likely delayed.

First off, this would be the spot where I congratulate Techdirt for speaking up on a serious subject. Sadly, it appears that it steps from a desire to push the old innovation button, and has little or nothing to do with true equality. That’s always an issue.

As mentioned elsewhere, Silicon Valley (the place, not the show) is nearly all make, and nearly all nerd / geek. These are people who couldn’t get laid in a whore house with a first full of twenties. Now they have fists full of thousands, and they are enjoying suddenly being sexy because they have enough money to buy whatever makes the girls hang around.

That actually makes things fundamentally worse, as they are learning how to deal with women in the same manner one might learn to use a snack machine. Insert coin, get what you want at the bottom, thank you. Then they hang around the other nerdy guys and brag about what their snack machine gave them for their money.

It gives them a basic failing in the social structures required to operate with the opposite sex. When every women that you deal with is essentially a gold digger / paid performer, then it’s easy to assume that every other woman has a similar operating system and functionality. It means that every woman you see is a series of insert coin / push button interactions that get you a desired result.

Uber’s problem seems massive. The numbers suggest women leave the company at a frightening pace, to the point where they are down to single digits are a percentage of the work staff.

There is no simple solution to socially graceless man-boys with piles of other people’s money. They don’t have time for an education. They may not even really want to learn, because it’s not beneficial to them in any way that is meaningful to them. Why would they want to learn? They are making a pile of money and they are getting laid, either by covert hooker hanger on types, or by banging their employees and co-workers who are too scared to report them or unable to report them.

This sort of gets back to the question of jerk tech. Plenty of companies have created products which mostly cater to the needs to rich people with no social manners. Apps for line cutting dinner reservations, parking spots, and the like cater to those who can fork over the price for the privilege, and plebs be damned. Their social interactions with women are on the same level. It’s “me me me me I’m rich me me me me” and not much else.

I do suggest for Techdirt to start at home. Consider that your writing staff (and back office staff) appear to be entirely male. Why? Adding some female voices to the mix might really help things out. You have a chance to lead, why not take it?

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Held for moderation, take that into consideration

I’ve had articles published by Techdirt and they’ve often had female guest writers. Why not contact them or look them up to see how they’re doing?

I got an office job when my web design business didn’t pay enough to live on. The market for small and startup businesses is saturated so I took the easy option. I don’t have the time to put in the effort to carry out the research required to meet TD’s standards any more and that’s okay with me, I can still point (and link to) the work I’ve already got up here if I ever go for a writing job. You may find that the other female writers already have other jobs in other fields or that they were guesting from other publications.

I’ve already made suggestions about how a woman writer might get herself noticed in a positive way (and even get a writing gig). As I’ve already said you may find that the lack of diversity is more down to demographics in readership (readers end up becoming writers, it seems) than to a deliberate policy to exclude women.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Nice one, Mike. Thank you for speaking up for us.

I’m glad to say that though I’ve often argued with people in the TD comments it’s always been about the point I was making at the time, not my gender. That’s why I keep recommending TD to my friends. I don’t mind if people argue or point out when I’m wrong, it’s how I learn. Kudos to TD for cultivating an atmosphere in which female commenters are welcome!

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