I’ve read over 200 articles, research papers and books over the last week. I know it’s not enough to truly understand the complex workings of humanity. I just hope I can do this topic the justice it deserves with what I did learn.
Table of Contents
- Response. Titles correspond to sections of Damore’s document.⁵
i. Reply to public response and misrepresentation
a. Diversity by Gender and Racial Distribution in a Population
b. Psychological Safety of Dissenting Ideology
iii. Google’s Biases
b. Exploring Damore’s table of biases
iv. Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech
v. Personality Differences
a. Empathizing vs. Systemizing
b. More women on the front end
c. Extraversion as gregariousness
e. Gender gap and sexism
vi. Men’s higher drive for status
a. Women in Computer Science
a.1. On mentors and peers
a.2. On insufficient enjoyability and class availability
b. Charts and stuff
vii. Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap
viii. The Harm of Google’s biases
ix. Why We’re Blind
a. De-moralize Diversity
b. Stop Alienating Conservatives
c. De-emphasize empathy
d. Prioritize intentions
e. Be open about the science of human nature
f. Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory
- Wrapping Up
i. Evaluating Damore’s Positions
I have been a programmer since I was 14. I am self-taught, and no one else in my family is a software engineer or programmer. My mother worked in civil engineering administration and managed the business’ networks. We often had a ton of computer parts laying around, which likely began my interest in computers from a young age.
My father was not really around and my parents were divorced. My step-father played computer games, mostly, and both my father and step-father did mostly mechanically-inclined jobs.
I excelled in mathematics, science, and engineering classes. I spent the majority of my time playing video games, taking stuff apart to see how it worked, and reading. I also took pleasure in playing music by ear on the flute and clarinet, both self-taught skills, and doing impressions.
I’ve been a professional software developer for 12 years. I’m 32 years old. I went to school for mainly astrophysics, though most know I’m basically a forever student (~7 years worth of credits) and should probably stop getting myself into education debt.
I dropped out of high school because I was was raped my sophomore year — when someone asked me to come over and tutor him in calculus — and because I was insistently bullied for having very large breasts, being generally anti-social and a “know-it-all”. I had a half a credit left. Six that I had earned, I earned taking college math and science courses while in high school. I took the AP Chemistry and Physics tests and passed them. I earned my GED a few months later and scored a high-merit score of nearly 4000. I had taken the SAT my junior year and received a 1570.
Everyone has their own story. That’s a lot of mine and it’s complicated.
I do not want to be a female software engineer. I want to be a software engineer. I don’t like feeling the need to grasp onto my femininity and wear it like a banner, but I’m doing it anyway. I feel like a Who, living on a dust spec, and I must shout with other women in tech “WE ARE HERE, WE ARE HERE, WE ARE HERE,” to prove I exist, and my existence isn’t merely an exception (🦄) to some biological predisposition in the other direction.
I am particularly uncomfortable with what I’ve been led to believe — both inadvertently, and with blatant, crass sexism — forms my identity and makes me “womanly”. I have been objectified and told I amount to nothing more than the sex that oozes from my pores from the time when I was a little girl. This led me to hate my haphazard chromosomal assignment and all its social architecture and intrinsic expectations.
Women are taught they are recognized mainly for their sexuality — instead of their actions — and then persecuted for the ‘exploitation’ of their ass-ets.
Most women are familiar with this game… it typically begins with a man with some type of perceived power overlooking her skillset and making some remark about her body, or worse, flat-out coming onto her. How does this story go?
Choose your own adventure:
- A) You giggle without denying, nor accepting the advances, but welcoming further advances in a cat-mouse type game the man enjoys.
- B) You succumb to the man’s advances, and receive some sort of reward in terms of career progression or whatever.
- C) You deny his advances, he reprimands you and verbally destroys the character he just moments ago feigned worship over, and silently you slip into the shadows.
- D) Same as option C, except you report your maltreatment to HR, or the world, and while you are met with support from empathizers, you also get accused of being a liar, or told that if you are being honest, you are deserving of the treatment and called names — nearly to the same extent you are supported.
You are constantly questioned on your authority, your motives, your capability, and your authenticity. It is exhausting.
This diatribe insultingly labeled as a manifesto does nothing more than allow people false confidence with bigoted perceptions to feel ‘psychologically safe’ to express their views as truths, with limited, though closer to zero, supporting data alongside it. It is a blatant example of confirmation bias.
Women and men, and people in general, have subtle differences both biologically and environmentally caused in personality. Men and women have other biological differences, resulting in some structural gender roles in society. None of these result in inferior and superior engineer archetypes. None of these result in an inherent disinterest in computer science.
To the man who wrote this document — inline citations and their corresponding numbered footnotes should be reserved for specific reliable source material to support your statements, not to provide readers with your shower thoughts.¹ When you do supply reference material, though you did so incorrectly, it should directly correlate to the methodology behind your thesis. It definitely should not just be Wikipedia pages explaining terminology and ideas with disclaimers warning the reader that they do not feel the contents is valuable, sourced properly, or objectively-neutral.
I’ve decided to take the time to address this sore excuse of “research” in its entirety, instead of my usual string of mostly rant-y Tweets that mostly die in the echo chamber they are launched into. Ordinarily, citing figures, methodology, and a bibliography is sufficient, but I will be trying to provide as much perspective as I can.
Reply to public response and misrepresentation
You start your revised thesis by presenting a conversational disclaimer.² This is a form of manipulation on the reader by leading their perception of what you’ve written to be more aligned with how you see yourself, or how you would like to be seen, despite the knowledge that what is following will be directly contradicting that impression. This is observed again in your initial opening thoughts.
A conversational disclaimer is a strategy to present information in a less personal or less direct manner… Since they criss-cross positive and negative messages, those are also barriers to effective and direct conversation, so we want to try and avoid them.²
This is not only an ineffective form of communication, but alludes to the fact that you don’t actually believe in the concept you are pre-absolving yourself from faulting. Rather you insinuate that the general understanding of what these terms mean is inherently incorrect because it is in direct variance with how you see yourself, your beliefs, and your values.
You suggest we look first at population to explain the gaps in tech. I agree with you that diversity in an organization should be measured by how closely they reflect their pool of candidates. Unfortunately, this is not actually an unbiased view of what diversity should look like. Diversity pools now are global, with many of your colleagues being hand-picked from other countries. Of course, the more glaring issue is that not everyone receives the same opportunities, and while you sit at the top of your field at Google as a white man with a medium to upper class wage, it’s easy for you to look down and see a mesh of different colored ants all with the same circumstances.
This is not how it is for the actual people struggling to survive and find opportunity in a society that keeps reinforcing the idea that they aren’t worth lifting up. Unconscious biases are simply a barrier for those who have already been afforded opportunity to rise, it does not address the compounding of socioeconomic status and its effects on learning, freedom to explore interests, and potential that lead to opportunity.
No one is implying that a white man does not need to work to get the things he has, or the accomplishments he’s achieved. The difference is how hard marginalized individuals have to work to receive the same perceived meritocratic value and honor, and how the recognition and accolade of those individuals depreciates at an astonishingly more rapid rate than that of your own.
Imagine growing up in a household with little food and money, poor schooling, and being in a group that is marginalized. Do you see how hard you would have to work just to get the same opportunities as someone who is not?
Diversity by Gender and Racial Distribution in a Population
That being said, I’d like to still address your suggestion. Let’s propose that Google has a candidate pool, all things being equal and for this argument’s sake, in the city of San Francisco, California. (For those unaware, Mountain View, California, where Google HQ is actually located, is much closer to San Jose, California. This is a much less forgiving demographic to compare to, as whites are not the majority, and adult women slightly outnumber men.)
As of 2010, according to the US Census³, the racial demographics of this area can be expressed in the following graph (note: the percentages add up to more than 100% because some people identify as multi-racial and those that partially or wholly makeup that mixture):
So you believe that Google is doing alright by this? Here is Google⁴:
Here’s how things have changed in the last 3 years, with the new practices you are arguing are discriminatory against white men:
When we go by population distribution, we can see that Google has caught up in the representation of Asians, and remained near representative of mixed races. The data indicates those mixed races are likely white/asian, as opposed to the reality of mixed races being spread differently as implied by the data of the US Census in 2010. Google was, and still is, behind in representing its key candidate pool of the Bay Area, even when we select the most white, male of cities nearby. Of course, the reality is that Google has a global pool of candidacy in which white and black people are of relative equal share, and Eastern and Western Asian are the overwhelming majority.
Psychological Safety of Dissenting Ideology
Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber.⁵
While you are correct in terms of the nature of team-building and the importance of trust, and psychological safety, you’ve applied it impractically against the implicit worthiness of your marginalized team members, and fellow human beings.
In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected. In teams that are psychologically dangerous team members feel unable to admit to mistakes, are distrusting, and blame others for their poor judgement. This affects learning, the ability for the team to perform well and solve problems efficiently, and to recognize and catch errors before they make it to production.⁶
I see how easy it is to bring all disagreements into this bubble. If I disagree with how someone is architecting a solution for a product, why can’t I disagree with how we are architecting a solution for diversity? Well, chiefly for the reason that you are not an authority on the subject. I use the term authority loosely here, namely because I believe every voice matters™ and a good idea can come from anywhere.
However, that doesn’t preclude that you are clearly ignorant and apathetic to how it feels to be a part of an unfairly marginalized group. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “privileged” before, and scoffed at such a condescending assumption that you had everything in life handed to you.
Let me clear up why your privilege is showing, and why it’s not “SJW propaganda”. It is easy to say that diversity efforts are discriminatory towards your own un-marginalized group and denying you opportunities you feel you would have otherwise been afforded. It is easy to stay in your own lane, ignore the traffic accidents in the peripheral, and keep moving ahead being unaffected entirely by what is happening outside your vehicle.
Google’s own structured biases against women and racial diversity is your opportunity. You already only have one hoop to jump through in terms of getting to where you did. You had to pass the “best and brightest” test. You did it. You’re there. This is the same bar that everyone else outside of your group has, in your eyes, and that is true. They also need to pass that same test. However, getting to that test, and the test itself, is peppered with unconscious biases. Attitudes such as your own cause you to even more heavily scrutinize your out-group than simple implicit biases hinder on their own. These are additional exhausting difficulties that you will never have to overcome.
The addition of programs to help negate these inherently unfair practices are not taking opportunity away from you, or your in-group. These programs did not exist before. You know what did exist before? Legal segregation barring women and racial minorities from participating in a number of activities, or even being given basic human rights. There are still people living who have been barred entry from an institution based solely on their ethnicity or gender. Trans-gendered and homosexual people are terrified for their physical safety to be themselves in a large portion of public places, even digitally.
Programs to help engage marginalized people in tech is not discriminatory. Advertising and general resources favor white males in terms of tech. While it is getting better, it’s not that much better for my particular generation who has been ostracized for not being “domesticated enough”, and while I won’t speak for people of color, I’m sure they can speak about worse stereotypes they have to fight before they are even allowed into the conversation. I, and the women I know in tech and gaming, are constantly overly quizzed, and overly scrutinized to attempt to falsify our capability, authenticity and inherent potential as programmers and engineers, or as “real” gamers.
You are privileged because you can say that programs meant to lift up those marginalized by a system you thrive in is discriminatory. You are privileged because you can alter the meaning of discrimination in your mind to mean simply not being included. It’s hard to care about something that doesn’t affect you, and it’s even harder to recognize and admit when you are benefiting from something that is actually psychologically and physically harming others.
Back on track, though, psychologically safe practices in the workplace are not, and were never meant, to make you feel safe to confidently express all ideas as truths with absolutely no real data or valuable references to support those ideas. No one should accept, let alone respect the dehumanizing of a teammate. That creates the psychologically dangerous environment you think you are arguing against.
When your ideas are actively harming other individuals in your team, you are creating a toxic work environment. Those under the umbrella you’ve expressed are inferior start to silently believe that their ideas are not valid, or aren’t worth as much as yours are.
Your personal beliefs about someone else’s genetic makeup, religious preferences, or other traits, do not belong in the workplace. If you feel someone on your team is devaluing you in some way that is outside of the realm of the work you do, you follow HR protocol and allow them to do their job.
The truth is that if you wanted a safe space for everyone to share ideas on how to help lift marginalized, deserving people into equality, you’d first learn why your own organization is supporting the programs they are supporting, and how they are doing in terms of accomplishing those goals.
Instead of assuming they are poorly designed and implemented, inside of an “echo chamber” no less, you’d learn about them, learn about those who are actually discriminated against, how to use your critical reasoning skills to sidestep your own conscious and unconscious biases, and be a part of the conversation in a way that is conducive to solving the problem.
People generally have good intentions, but we all have biases which are invisible to us. Thankfully, open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, which is why I wrote this document.⁵
You did not write this document to help others grow. You wrote this document to seek confirmation of your viewpoint in an environment you feel is silencing your core values and belief system.
You repeatedly make it clear you’ve felt alone and left out, forgotten by a system you unconsciously(?) feel should cater to you. In the paragraph in response to the scrutiny from the public and your colleagues, you sign off with a run-on sentence providing “proof” that you’re not alone, as if any of the rest of us care or are unaware of the fact that there are people who agree with you.
I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude...⁵
I’m no psychologist, but I question how many you’ve actually received from colleagues in comparison to the number in disagreement based on your need to insert this line.¹⁴⁷
If you cannot recognize your complete disregard for reality and facts, then how can you possibly help others grow? You’ve yet to grow yourself.
Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices.
◦ Compassion for the weak
◦ Disparities are due to injustices
◦ Humans are inherently cooperative
◦ Change is good (unstable)
◦ Respect for the strong/authority
◦ Disparities are natural and just
◦ Humans are inherently competitive
◦ Change is dangerous (stable)
I’m not entirely sure where to start here. First of all, you refer to “left” and “right”, and what I assume you mean is “liberalism” and “conservatism”, respectively. Secondly, you refer to these as “political orientations”. These are certainly just philosophies that appear in various political manifestations because politics are how we govern conflict as a group of people trying to work together as amicably as possible.
Liberalism was founded on equality, free will, and individualism. This ideology became particularly notable during the “Enlightenment” of the 18th Century, when rationalist philosopher René Descartes’ work⁷ was augmented by John Locke, Christian Wolff, and Benedito de Espinosa, in an effort to exterminate religious authority, hereditary entitlement, despotic monarchy, and the divine rights of Kings. Mary Wollstonecraft began the argument, within this philosophy, that women should be thought of and treated as rational, equal human beings.
Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu pioneered basing ideas on reason, centered on the Scientific Method, rather than previously faith-based societies, particularly the Catholic doctrine ruling at the time, and these ideas shaped the French Revolution.⁸
In a very large way, the French Revolution gave way to freedom of religion, and like many other revolts against Absolute Monarchy in the 18th century, the majority of the population felt unfairly taxed without adequate representation, and of course, without the freedom to seek opportunity.
During this same time period, early American settlers were fleeing religious prosecution as Puritans under the rule of the Church of England and/or their roles as indentured servants, looking for opportunity to advance and become successful in another land (many were also forced over as convicts). You may be familiar with the national ethos this affords us, the American Dream⁹. The Declaration of Independence is rooted on this very ethos.
We revolted against the Motherland in the 18th century for further independence. It was determined by our founding fathers that King George of England was tyrannically ruling over us, oppressing Englishmen with unfair taxes, military invasion, and other persecutory restrictions. There were Loyalists, of course, who did not want change. Tens of thousands of these anti-liberal traditionalists fled North, and settled in British North America (Canada)¹⁰.
Liberalism has allowed you to pursue the American Dream without persecution. Progression and reason doesn’t stop because you’re happy with the way things are now. Liberalism keeps moving without your support, because equilibrium has not been obtained.
All sciences “lean left” because it is a requirement while studying what you observe to apply the Scientific Method to your conclusions. This has absolutely nothing to do with moral resolve, or political affiliation. When you must change what you believe to be true, you cannot ignore observations. The system is shifting around us, and we are just grasping at the tendrils of knowledge popping out as we dig deeper and deeper. Google is a product of science, and a product for science. Google was begot out of reason, so you can’t expect it not to be an inherently liberal company.
Exploring your table of biases
Left bias: Compassion for the weak⁵
Right bias: Respect for the strong/authority⁵
I find it interesting you place respect and compassion in juxtaposition. The two are undoubtedly intertwined, because a respect for humanity leads to charitable action. Respect for human dignity is a part of the foundation of our country.¹⁵⁴ It is also fundamental in our global cooperation with other nations.¹¹
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.¹⁵⁴
Furthermore, you misunderstand this crucial piece of liberal philosophy, in that there is a responsibility in that regard to ensure that all can succeed with equal opportunity, which is rooted in our very liberal government documents. As we’ve already established, socioeconomics in this country — and many others — make it impossible for people to actually have equal opportunity. This is not “compassion for the weak”, this is respect for humankind to the point of being willing to help someone less privileged have a shot at the American Dream. While this is a liberal ideology, the majority of people that this helps in the United States would not consider themselves liberal, and are most certainly white.¹²
We all respect the strong and authoritative figures. That is simply a consequence of nature.¹³^¹⁴
Left bias: Disparities are due to injustices⁵
Right bias: Disparities are natural and just⁵
I want to take a moment here to point out that you, yourself, who is clearly opposed to “leftist ideology”, are arguing against what you believe to be a disparity due to an injustice. Let that sink in.
Liberalism is freedom of individual expression, equal opportunity, and reason.
Whether or not a human being is willing to accept, or even hear, that their inequality is due to genetic disposition is difficult, has nothing to do with that person’s political affiliation, or personal philosophies. Even more difficult is hearing, and accepting, that your deficiencies and failures are self-created.
The problem here, is not that there is a discrepancy between these two ideologies, it is the empathetic viewpoint that someone else’s disparities, may be caused by something unjust. It is the point in which snap judgement exits, and critical thought enters. It’s repugnant to neglect this gift we’ve been given to reason; to recognize and scrutinize where there may be injustice. Believe it or not, we see that there is also self-caused missed opportunity, and unfortunately, sometimes immalleable defects obstructing success in some area. The ideology is reasonable.
All of these would allow a margin in variable directions depending on the topic itself, but do not explain why certain groups have far less opportunities than others.
Given that we cannot effectively assume whether or not people in most situations have a self-inflicted, or nature-bound, hindrance to success in any given area, assuming they are capable, and deserving of opportunity, we defer to the foundation we’ve built this country around — human dignity.
Left bias: Humans are inherently cooperative⁵
Right bias: Humans are inherently competitive⁵
Another juxtaposition of traits that are not only not mutually exclusive, but implicitly a part of nature. Not just for human beings, but the actual system we live in. Competitive exclusion is rarely found in natural ecosystems¹⁵, and species survive and persist better through cooperation. The same can be said of the universe in general; it is a balance of “cooperation” and “competition”.
Humans are both inherently cooperative, and competitive. Neither of these outweighs the other, and both lead to furthering ourselves as a society, and individually.
Liberal ideology believes that considering the entire system in cooperation leads to the greatest strides in human advancement, because it is historically true for humans, and other species.
Left bias: Change is good (unstable)⁵
Right bias: Change is dangerous (stable)⁵
This one genuinely perplexes me. Unless you’re writing in Assembly Language, and Google was your first job, you are not opposed to change. Also, if this were true, you’d want to leave the system the way it is after any change, because complex rollbacks introduce their own set of dangers and instability.
This reads almost like a programming paradigm debate, except you’ve looped all people into these two “sides” which don’t actually exist.
All people shift when it is perceived as being beneficial to them. In some cases, this change can be perceived as risky, such as starting a business, or having a child, but the potential for reward outweighs this perceived risk, and most people take these risks and alter their own system.
As an engineer at Google, and after reading your jeremiad, I do not feel the least bit remiss in assuming you are, in fact, quite fond of change.
I lean into liberal philosophy. I am terrified of change. I plan everything, and when things go awry, or there is no plan at all, I completely shut down mentally. In fact, it is so bad my therapist has called me metathesiophobiac. I like immutable software systems. I also am defined by my constant strive for self-improvement. This is not contradictory.
Change is inherently disruptive, and thus dangerous. Change is often beneficial. Thoughtful, pragmatic change is necessary.
Left bias: Open⁵
Right bias: Closed⁵
This might be one of the laziest parts of the whole comparative list. Typically following statements like this, you’ll see support in the subsequent paragraphs, or some sort of source to get some sort of context, but you’ve not given any. The only hint is this statement:
A company too far to the right may be slow to react, overly hierarchical, and untrusting of others…[or] in contrast overly trust its employees and competitors [if too far left].⁵
So, I will respond to that.
No business that is even remotely successful falls into either of these categories. Trust is inherently imperative to the success of a team, and thus the success of its product. Discretion and suspicion are also important. Once again, it seems you have a grossly uneducated, misguided view of multiple topics.
All businesses must be constantly analyzing climate, competitors, laws and policy, and technology. Technology disruption is a leading cause of business failure, or for businesses like Google and Apple, a cause of rapid growth if self-caused.¹⁶
Humans are naturally predisposed toward suspicion¹⁷^¹⁸ (and prejudice)¹⁹, and this has nothing to do with your political leanings. However, how well you understand something, or know someone, plays a significant role and your level of suspicion, and how easily trust is earned.
Unfortunately, personal biases that are in direct contradiction with information being presented to you will trigger the most danger in your brain. In fact, your brain will flat out reject it, strengthening its position that your biases are, in fact, justifiable and right.²⁰ This is why the large majority of arguments are primarily about winning, not about learning from the person with whom you are arguing.²¹
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Mark Twain
No one is trusting. No one is open to the idea that their beliefs are wrong. It’s not political. It’s science.
Left bias: Idealist⁵
Right bias: Pragmatic⁵
Another false dichotomy. This is the product of pragmatic political propaganda. This faulty contrast is contingent on morals and practicality being in direct interference of one another, when in reality, this is a cognitive illusion²², requiring a certain angle of view at a figurative focal point from a specific perspective.
Both political leanings concerning abortions believe they are both morally correct, and a pragmatic approach. It is merely the presentation of such ideas designed to augment already present biases.
Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence.⁵
Given the fact that you’ve provided no facts, and failed to reason, I find it laughable that you have the warped notion that you, or those who agree with the nonsense you’ve written, are being shamed into silence. The voices you’ve got are so loud, that your biases still haven’t been stomped out of tech. The voices you’ve got are so loud that minorities and women in tech are leaving, due entirely to the way you shove them aside, over-criticize, and drown them out. I’ve heard more openly casual racist and sexist remarks in tech than in any other industry I’ve worked in, including food service.
You also seem heinously confused about what political correctness is. Political correctness is altering your behavior and words so that you are not offensive towards the people around you. At work, this is to avoid creating a toxic environment. It’s respecting your colleagues. It’s the reason why you feel confident in posting such unrefined slop in your workplace’s forum.
You stated in the beginning of your article that you want to help point each other to our unconscious biases. You don’t realize that the reason you should be “politically correct” is so that you do not create more — nor propagate existing — biases, unconscious or explicit.
For the rest of this document, I’ll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and the authoritarian element that’s required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.⁵
Before even diving into the crux of your flimsy essay, you make a statement that is so outrageously erroneous it makes me wonder if you’re blind to the fact that you are living in an “echo chamber” of your own.
An example of discrimination is not a woman being disallowed into a Fraternity, for example. Being sexually harassed and reporting it, but being withheld the opportunity of the benefit of the doubt and accused of lying is being discriminated against.
Holding onto a snap judgement that someone from a Muslim country may have foul intentions and denying them opportunity to present their ideas out of a fear for your safety (note: this is due to propaganda and ignorance). Your choice to not educate yourself on the reality that most Muslims are in fact not radical extremists and that most terrorists are actually not even Muslim²³ at all, and instead bar someone an opportunity they may be best qualified for is discriminatory.
You assume they’re hostile. Because you’re hostile, extermination and war and power dominate your thoughts, and you assume the same for them. — A.G. Riddle, 2013, The Atlantis Gene.
Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech
We’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership.
They are.²⁴ I want to point out here, that this is where we start to see the real purpose of this article. The writer has not taken the time to outline his supposed purpose and followed it to ensure he achieves his “goal” of getting a conversation about “less reverse-discriminatory” practices to increase diversity. Hell, he’s not even stuck to his original thesis, he made up an entirely new one, and can’t hang onto that one either.
He’s now shown a light on his real issue. This is precisely why more women are understandably annoyed than the other groups brought up in the first few paragraphs, and feel this is another feeble attempt to push us out of the industry.
On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed…⁵
Yes, men and women differ biologically in many ways. This is true. I don’t need to argue this point at all, nor list your reasons why it is true, I just want to make a point that I am a reasonable human being. I also took health class in the 4th grade. I’m also observant. Mainly because I am human. No, wait, entirely because I am human. Men and women differ, but they also have much in common, and the differences are complementary to each other, thus persisting our species.²⁵^²⁶
I will make one point:
◦ They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective⁵
You don’t have knowledge of this. There are ~6,500 known differences in gene expressions²⁵ between men and women that have yet to be fully examined by actual scientists.
It’s obnoxious that you feel empowered to make this statement and actually believe it yourself, but worse, that others will take you as an authority figure with intimate knowledge of genetic sciences and believe this to be true as well.
I can hardly wait.
◦ Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. (empathizing vs. systemizing)⁵
I’d love to see your support as to how this is not influenced by social construction. Have you ever taken an EQ vs SQ test? These tests and studies ask questions that do not support your notion that they aren’t socially biased.
“If I were buying a computer, I would want to know exact details about its hard drive capacity and processor speed.” — Autism Research Centre.
Furthermore, in the blog post you plagiarized²⁷ for the majority of this bulleted list (which actually only deals with this particular topic in your longer list of differences “supported by evolutionary expectations”), Dr. Baron-Cohen is also credited to have suggested that the extremity of leaning in one direction or the other beyond age 7 is socially influenced.²⁸
And, no, the 1:4 gender bias in autism is not further proof of your argument. Autism is different in girls, likely because of a mix of genetic expression and social constructs.²⁹ Studies in handedness also suggest that there are subtypes in autism, as left-handed boys with autism show a different phenotype and different social ability than right-handed boys.⁷⁸
In contrast to your argument about majority systematic thinking being necessary to program, and an unbiased biological reason that women are inferior to men in software engineering, left-handedness is also associated with a higher emotional intelligence — both higher neuroticism⁷⁵, and leaning toward the problem solving profile we’ve shown to be favorable in women.⁷⁶ Left-handedness is more common in men than women; 12% of the population is left-handed and men are 23% more likely to be left-handed.⁷⁷
Left-handedness can be apparently robust in both high functioning individuals who are innately more creative and inventive than others, or cognitively and behaviorally impaired. Looking at that data, noted is the the pay gap, suggesting that willingness to accept a first offer from a higher level of agreeableness, whether undervalued or not, instead of negotiating, is likely to be partially responsible.¹²² Some of it is explained with lowered cognitive and behavioral abilities, of course, but again, the gap is much, much wider for women, who are less likely to be cognitively impaired with left-handedness.
Who are the left-handed and ambidextrous fathers of computing? Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Alan Turing, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak. Well, then.
Researchers could not explain as much of the female wage gap as the male gap with agreeableness or a cognitive impairment. What did show was that the more neuroticism displayed by a left-handed individual, the more likely they were to earn equal or greater than their right-handed control.¹²²
Higher neuroticism was also profoundly evident in a quicker reaction to tasks.¹²³ This is congruent with evidence of how women generally fair better in tasks involving a dependence on speedy reactivity.⁶⁹ The overlap here suggests that neuroticism itself is a main driver in outliers in differences in problem solving favoring men or women, though the margin between genders itself is not markedly pronounced, instead simply evident.
We must ask ourselves, though, are left-handers also treated differently in their youth, resulting in these differences in neuroticism? If a woman can simply ‘picture herself as a stereotypical male’ to change her problem solving style and capabilities,⁹¹ can an exceptional left-hander just imagine they are able to solve problems differently?
Emotional intelligence, [or empathetic thinking, as you’ve chosen to describe it,] refers to the collection of abilities used to identify, understand, control and assess the emotions of the self and others. — Salovey & Mayer ~1990
Women have been measured to be typically more emotionally intelligent than men.³⁰ Both in cognitive empathy and emotional empathy. It appears that testosterone and estrogen ratios play a significant role in the difference.³¹ Their lack of scoring high on systematic thinking tests, especially in terms of puzzles, is increasingly thought of as being highly driven by culture and social architecture.³²
Your indication that being inherently less empathetic makes you a better fit for technological positions, and especially, in leadership is just plain wrong. In many leadership handbooks, which I’m certain at this point you’ve never read or even studied at all, you learn about something called Emotional Intelligence Theory, which highlights and outlines that to be a good leader, one must have high self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and social skills.³³
A set of skills [that] contribute to the accurate appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in others, the effective regulation of emotion in self and others, and the use of feelings to motivate, plan, and achieve in one’s life. — Salovey & Mayer ~1990
Leaders are taught to cultivate their soft skills, which are precisely what the pillars of emotional intelligence are. Humans are more receptive to leaders that appear to be self-aware, controlled, trusting, self-sacrificing, understanding, and empathetic. The more intelligent an employee perceives their leader to be, in fact, the more productive their relationship, and the more effective that employee.³⁴
In fact, a leader not displaying these qualities is the most common reason people quit their jobs. You’re probably familiar with the saying, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.”³⁵
So what about in technical positions outside of management? Well, it is postulated by professionals, both analytically in research, and by human resources internally, that these soft skills are imperative to effective cooperation with coworkers and management, and especially to govern a personal work ethic that can be measured by management, in any job.³⁶
Something you may not yet be aware of, is how imperative it is to write readable, flexible, explicit code in a highly composable and defensive designed system. This is due to the importance of human efficiency over system efficiency. It is frankly more costly to ignore other human beings when you are writing code than to shave milliseconds off your runtime. A well-written system exists in a complex balance between engineering empathy, user empathy, and system efficiency.
Code that is simply the fastest can be ugly, hard to understand, and fragile. The word efficiency is not a statically typed term. It depends on your periphery and vantage point. If you lose yourself in the efficiency of your machine, and do not see outside contributing factors, your system is rigid and falls to the dangers akin to that of a classical inheritance system.
These types of skills, which are characteristic of what is denominated as Emotional Intelligence, become indispensable in the profile of a Computer Engineer. — Daniel Goleman, 1995.
Sometimes it is beneficial, even to a business, to write unintentionally ugly code. Sometimes you just need to know if something works. When you are working on any product, often times the needs of meeting deadlines, or minimizing effort outweigh our inherent desire to write code that we could consider a work of art. If you cannot adjust yourself to these needs, or recognize when this is the case, you are a detriment to your product, and someone more emotionally intelligent than you would be better suited to complete the project in your place. There is no evidence concluding that men are more likely to solve a problem the most efficient way first.
I often find myself arguing with junior and mid level engineers that lack experience in an actual cooperative engineering environment about legacy code they find being written by “lazy engineers” or questioning how “they ever even got hired”. Not going to lie, I was once one of those people. I listened to someone much, much wiser than me, one of the most brilliant people I know, a director of a tech department at a very big, chillingly awesome company (I hope she knows this is about her). She told me to recognize the larger picture, instead of focusing on limited, reactive context. I did that, and I’ve become a better engineer and human being because of it.
Pythoneer Tim Peters gave us the Zen of Python, and it’s Pragmatic, Systematic, and Empathetic.³⁷ To be pythonic and to write pythonic systems is to inherently consider your colleagues, present and future, during programming the software you write.
Rules governing a system are there to help maintain integrity. When rules are too rigid, they are a hindrance, and nearly always dismantled by progression. Flexible rules concern all outside influences, including future ones.
…comparatively more women work on front end, which deals with both people and aesthetics.⁵
Worldwide, in 2016, the median Front-End Web Developer had 3.5 years experience.³⁸ I started out on the front-end because that is what I could figure out on my own at home by right-clicking on a web page. I like taking things apart and seeing how they work, and get an insatiable rush when I make a thing work. This developed a pattern for me, that building something made me feel good when I saw it working.
When I started working professionally, I was the second Google result for front-end developer. Why? Did my 6–7 years of primitive auto-didactic exploration make me intrinsically more talented than everyone else? No. There weren’t very many others, and I had explored Google’s search algorithm to help me research topics I was interested in more effectively, (and also to pirate music; I’m really, quite sorry about that).
In 2005, this job title didn’t really exist. The guy in the number one spot called himself a front-end ajax developer. I wish I could remember who that was, he used plain html for his website and it was fantastic. Since the majority of women have more than 3.5 years of experience in the field³⁸, you can assume your argument is misguided, and incorrect.
Of course, I’m sure you’re going to pull out this graph to argue with me:
I assume you must have gotten your information from this survey, as it is the sole indication that you may be correct. Here we see that 35.4% of women have 2–5 years of experience. Does this mean that most women have 2–5 years of experience? No, it only shows that the most saturated experience group has 2–5 years of experience. It shows us that more than a third of women (36.7%) have at least 6 years’ or more experience, and mean of 2–5 years of experience indicates that likely a heavy portion of that group has 3.5–5 years of experience.
Now lets apply these same principles to the other graph you saw (and misunderstood):
Front-End Web Developers make up 10.6% of the developers here. I hope you can deduce that the other areas of expertise makeup more than 10.6% of the female technology positions.
Out of all 49,525 surveyed, 5.8% self-identified as front-end developers. 92.8% of respondents self-identified as male, 5.8% as female. So 45,959 of the tech people in the chart above are male. 2,873 are female. This means that 305 women self-identified as front-end developers, while more than 2,500 men identified as such.
There is literally no way to spin that the majority of women are front-end developers. They aren’t. There are just most concentrated in that particular expertise. I have my opinions on why that is, but they are essentially observational conjecture that I cannot back up with data at this time, so unlike you, I will not present them as facts.
◦ Extraversion expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness.⁵
Gender differences in extraversion have been found to be inconsistent or of negligible magnitude in large scale samples.³⁹ These are simply a consequence of varying personality types, which cannot be consistently applied to genders.
This leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading. Note that these are just average differences and there’s overlap between men and women, but this is seen solely as a women’s issue.⁵
Women are disproportionally mischaracterized and over-scrutinized by leadership (by both male and female bosses). In fact, assertive women are described as abrasive or aggressive, women who offer counters and introduce healthy conflict are described as irrational and emotional.⁴⁰ These are all postulated as negatives, or things the woman needs to change in order to be successful. Women are often penalized for their assertiveness, damaging their opportunities for raises and advancement.⁴¹
While assertive men are sometimes described as aggressive, more times than not this is seen as valuable, and are encouraged to escalate said aggression.⁴⁰
Man’s presence in the world is all about his potency and is related to what he can do, power and ability…a woman’s presence is always related to itself, not the world, and she does not represent potential. — John Berger
For a woman to navigate in the workplace to the top, she must be chameleon-like; shifting between lady-like (likable) and masculine (competent). Men are not adversely perceived as less likable for lacking feminine qualities.⁴²
This leads to exclusory programs like Stretch and swaths of men without support.⁵
You have support. It’s human resources. It’s the employee assistance program. You don’t need specialized support for your whiny attitude about inclusion and discrimination offset programs. You aren’t being denied opportunity or advancement because someone else is getting help to be perceived as your equal. You seem resistant to the idea that the person being lifted up is, in fact, your equal.
◦ Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.⁵
You are correct that women have higher neuroticism indicators than men.³⁹ What is unclear is why you have appended “lower stress tolerance” to your explanation of what neuroticism is. Simply being more prone to neuroticism does not indicate that more women are neurotic, and neurosis is a mood or personality disorder, not an inherent gendered personality trait.
What is clear is that neuroticism correlates to a more reactive nervous system, so people with higher emotionality will likely be more neurotic, though not typically to the extreme that they are unable to cope with stressors.⁴⁴ Women and men as a whole, with no unequal factors, develop mental disorders at near equal rates. Women, in many cases, are less likely to develop mental disorders in a controlled, level environment.⁴⁵
Women biologically tolerate chronic stress better than men.⁴⁶ Women do not share a gene (SRY) found on the Y chromosome which regulates the over-stimulation of catecholamines.⁴⁷ During times of stress, this gene promotes the elevated orchestration of epinephrine and norepinephrine, resulting in higher rates of aggression, and other behaviors associated with the fight-or-flight response. This results in a lowered endurance to future stressors.⁴⁶ Men are disproportionately affected by heart disease compared to women, and chronic stress may be an underlying cause.⁴⁸
In addition to lacking the SRY gene, women also have an entirely different biological response to stress. Women utilize estrogen instead of adrenaline to handle stress, and the brain prefers estrogen if actively available.⁴⁶ Women’s estrogenic response to stress actually appears to alleviate emotionality and enhance cognition, encouraging behavioral adaptation to future stressors, while in men, stress is nearly always a detriment.⁴⁹
You can be sure that the women at Google feel excessively anxious and stressed simply because of the toxic work environment you are a part of persisting. Silencing, or downplaying, that environmental stress leads women into depression and other mental illnesses from internalizing the stress in quiet isolation.⁵⁰
Women keep telling us why they are leaving tech, and it’s not disinterest because of their personalities. It’s because of the toxic culture.¹⁴⁹
Like morphological and physiological features, sex differences in personality are vulnerable to restraining environmental pressures. As a society becomes more prosperous and more egalitarian, innate dispositional differences between men and women have more space to develop and the gap that exists between men and women in their personality traits becomes wider. — Schmitt DP, Realo A, Voracek M, Allik J. 2009
You quoted this and followed it with the sentence:
We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.⁵
The gender gap doesn’t imply sexism. The data collected from our experiences and the last 30 years of the tech industry parades sexism.
The personality differences between men and women haven’t explained the gender gap just because of personality differences. You seem to think you’ve done that without ever citing real support for your positions. You haven’t. Personality differences exist. They may be more noticeable even as a society becomes more equal. That doesn’t support your argument.
You are quoting a source that has been scrutinized as being an oversimplification⁵¹ and an exaggeration⁵² of cognitive mapping.
During 2016, female representation rose 1.8%. It had not changed from 5.8% since they started collecting data until 2017.¹⁵¹ This can be directly correlated to diversity and inclusion programs, and not to a global shift in personality typing.
Women’s biology did not suddenly nationally shift in 1984.
Men account for 88.6% of tech. Women for 7.6%.⁹⁰
Can you honestly look at this table of deviations, and say, with full seriousness, that a gender gap of 81%, in a world where the gender ratio is nearly 1:1, is due to these personality deviations?
Of course they cannot. To assert that they do is to ignore the observation of data to preserve your viewpoint. Ignoring the standard deviations above, the most computer science could be skewed to males due to simply personality differences would be around 1%.¹⁵⁵
Proofs are important in mathematics and science.
Men’s higher drive for status
We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs.⁵
Yes, we do, we ask this a lot. We can answer that question with fairly simple math⁵³, instead of your invalid supposition that women want a balanced, fulfilling life, and men don’t.
On Glassdoor, I’m constantly looking at the pros and cons of various companies coming from reviews of current and former employees. I frequently see listed as either a pro, or con, is always great or terrible work/life balance, respectively. Millenials want work/life balance. Both male and female. Older executives, men and women, have exhibited less sympathy for it in general.⁵⁴
Status is the primary metric that men are judged on, pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail.⁵
I really wish you’d list your sources for this information, and the methodology you use to apply it here. In everything I’ve read, this is not even suggested as an anecdotal reason why men are more successful in ladder climbing than women.
One of the highest indicators, though, is that men are more confident than women⁵⁵, and more driven by accomplishment and growth, and women more by culture fit, strategy, and reward.⁵⁶
Given that women are less often rewarded than men in the workplace, and men feel more valued and experience more growth than women, it makes sense that men would more often rise to the top. Women feel more isolated and out of place in the workplace, especially in male-dominated industries, so one of their main drivers is already not being actively engaged.
You feel lonely, you feel like a novelty, you feel like a fraud. You feel like you don’t deserve a seat at the table. — Whitney Hills, female programmer, 2014.
Women who actively try to take credit for their work, or assert themselves, are automatically judged as arrogant, abrasive,⁴⁰ and incompetent.⁵⁷ When men show anger and conflict, they are regarded as passionate⁵⁷ and assertive⁴⁰, while woman are perceived as irrational⁴⁰ and emotional.⁵⁷
Women are driven more by organizational fit than nearly any other category, and in male-dominated industries, this drive is met far less often for women than in other industries. Women are often ostracized in tech culture, and at an alarming rate, harassed⁵⁸ or silenced.⁵⁹
My main issue with your point here is that you don’t see the large picture, filled with many pieces that make up the whole puzzle.
You take a single viewpoint from Quillette (a right-leaning news source)⁶⁰ on the following quote:
As of December 2016, there were 1,612 filled positions, among which 30 per cent were women. That fits with the fact between 2000 and 2015, 31 per cent of applicants for the jobs were from women. — Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
and the data⁶¹ from collecting 2 decades’ worth of census data and present it again — as fact — as if you are enlightening us that everything is fair and just, based on the low number of applications and decline in growth in STEM. Just because chair selection in one position has near-accurate representation ratios to application, does not mean the path to get there was bias-free.
This is a revolting misuse of such a limited amount and perspective of data.
The fact that you use a media source as a focal point is disconcerting, mainly because your narrative is that media is biased propaganda meant to further agendas. It seems you have no problem leaning into the media when it agrees with you, regardless of what the underlying data can mean, and what can influence that data.
Quillette has a strong history of publishing factual information, citing it properly, but misleading readers with the data using loaded vocabulary and imagery that favors conservative causes.⁶⁰
To the data — The first point I want to make is the rise in women in computer science degree programs over the 3 censuses, but the decrease in employment in computer science.⁶¹ This aligns with the conversation we are having. Women are interested. Of course not all women are interested in computer science. Neither are all men. The main concern is a cause and effect due to the lack of women, not the lack of women period. The interest diminishes drastically at around middle school⁶², then again during high school, then university⁶³, and most significantly, at employment.³⁸
We’ve already seen that women are discriminated against in droves in this industry⁵⁸, which lends itself well to be considered a leading cause in the drop in employment. Women report constantly that they are leaving because of the toxicity and “bro culture”. We are incessantly harassed and have our validity questioned. If we attempt to be a part of the marketing towards our young people, we are discredited and accused of being inauthentic examples of what “real” computer science roles are.⁶⁴
Women report this type of treatment during high school and college, as well.
For me, college boiled down to one thing: intense isolation. — Pooja Sankar, MS in Computer Science, Stanford University.
You can easily infer from the data that the increase in women in technological roles from college to employment would indicate some sort of adjustment to bias in the work place, but this is not the case. 58% of women working in computing who went to college were not computer science majors in undergraduate studies.⁶⁵ Given that only 34.8% of all developers report as having a Computer Science (or closely related) undergraduate degree, we can assume that another significant portion are self-taught.³⁸
The drop in high school interest for young women in computer science is most influenced by a lack of suitable⁴³ peers and mentors, an unhealthy culture, classes that do not consider how girls learn and what they enjoy, and the fact that in many schools, computer science has either not be offered at all, or, if it has been, not counted as a math or science elective credit.⁶⁵ (This has historically disproportionately affected girls because of a lack of computer and video game exposure at home.)
— On mentors and peers —
You cannot be what you cannot see. — Reshma Saujani
We already know that people are more comfortable with people who look familiar.⁴³ Adolescents struggle to conceptualize themselves in roles in which personal parity is not reflected, and this is even more heavily shaped by leaders and classmates. Saujani suspects that this is more apparent in girls, which may indeed be true. It is hypothesized that the shared neural activation that occurs during this learning process may be the neurological core of empathy, an integral part of emotional intelligence, and an area in which women are favored.³⁰ It is not just females though, whose behaviors and prosody are influenced by mentors and peers.⁶⁶
We are taught, and marketed male mentoring in computing. Charles Babbage, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Douglas Crockford, Alan Turing, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg. Conversely, we are not taught about or marketed Ada Lovelace, Rózsa Péter, Barbara Liskov, Katherine Johnson, Grace Hopper, Grete Hermann, Lynn Conway, Adele Goldberg, Frances Allen, Selina Tobaccowala, Deborah Estrin, Lixia Zhang, Helen Greiner, Cynthia Breazeal, Divya Manian, or Mave Houston.
How many of these women have you even heard of? Even better, how many of these women had you heard of prior to the last three years? These women aren’t just a list of female computer programmers, these are women who fundamentally altered the future of computing during their respective time periods. These are women we can tell our daughters about. These are our lost role models. These are women that have been effectively erased from history, along with countless others.⁶⁷ These are women we should be celebrating.
My grandmother, in the early 1900’s, ran a very successful dry-cleaning business and orchestrated many local events. She was considered very prominent in the area they lived in. Newspaper articles about her refer to her as “Mrs. Stewart”, and my grandfather’s name is plastered everywhere. No one outside of our family would ever knew who she was other than William Stewart’s wife. She was so much more than that. Men get names in history. Women mostly get to tag along for the ride.
It would be a grave oversight if I failed to point out who else is missing role models in computing: black young men.⁶⁸ While I have not done the research on this topic, it is a problem that needs addressing. I strongly urge others to help shine a light on this issue and help this marginalized group in tech find more mentors as well.
— On insufficient enjoyability and class availability—
Girls tend to prefer material problem solving challenges that can be applied to real-world scenarios. Typically, this will correspond to their other interests, whether those interests are biologically or socially driven, similar to their interests in video games, toys, and puzzles. Computing is problem solving. Problem solving is shown to be equal in many ways, giving men an edge in a lot of cases⁶⁹, but women outperform men in:
- context-switching and multi-tasking⁷⁰
- noticing, understanding, and correcting underlying and outside problems
- displacement, removal, and replacement recognition⁷¹
- mathematical calculation
- perceptual speed⁶⁹
When girls are given problems to solve that they can relate to, or concern their interests, they excel in computer science coursework, and indicate interest in it.⁶⁵ This makes sense, given that problem solving feels really good. Like, biologically good.⁷² So much so, in fact, that it has been successfully explored as a therapeutic option in treating depression.⁷³
When you create products without outside influences and dissenting perceptions from your own, you end up with biased products against those voices you neglect. The most broad, relatable example of this is the product bias against left-handedness.⁷⁴
When girls have exposure of varying types in programs that are designed around their primary drivers, interest is increased. In school, when programs are present, 52% of girls are interested in computer science careers, when computer programs are extra-curricular, 84% of girls are interested.⁶⁵ During the last year, girls taking the AP Computer Science test surged nearly 10%, due to more programs being tailored to interest boys and girls, and girl-specific programs to augment current programming. The boom is also attributed to more states making computer science courses count as math or science electives.⁷⁹
We know that anti-woman marketing around computing that began in the 1960’s and overly-male advertising around gaming and computing during the 1980’s led to a decline in hands-on experience for women with computers, and ultimately a decline in both interest and capability because programs were designed inadvertently around a pre-requisite of that experience.⁸⁰ Only 10% of female technologists in computer science roles currently report that they were not exposed to video games during their youth. Women who were exposed to games in childhood were 4 times more likely to develop an interest in computer science.⁶⁵
Girls must be equally marketed to and products must have equal representation to find and fully understand any underlying gendered biological differences in computer science interest. Right now, we have the strongest push in elementary and middle school programming and gaming towards girls, and it results in a constant majority interest and perception that it is cool.⁶⁵ This drops nearly 20% in high school, where programming and marketing around computing and gaming is heavily gender-biased towards males. We also start to see a toxic industry in which girls are made to believe they are inherently worse at all of these things, and valued more for their appearance and sexuality than their personalities and mental potential.
Charts and stuff
What I find truly perplexing is your awareness that populations overlap in character trait dominance. Not only does this imply that these traits may have environmental influences, but it also hinders your argument more than it helps it.
You provide us with this graph of trait dispersion:
You argue that the majority are men because they are coming from the far right of the graph, but fail to recognize that that is because people are biased toward people like them. This is exactly the biases we are trying to eliminate. We may not be able to control our unconscious biases, but we can architect a solution that considers that we have them by including people from all of the graph of personality traits.
The reality is that these same overlapping graphs can be applied to architecture and engineering paradigms as well. People are inherently different, with various traits working cooperatively to form a better product. Cooperation is successful when collaborators are of equal competence⁸¹ and respect each other’s capabilities to form a trust bond that allows for healthy communication.⁸² The extent to which men or women favor certain personality traits, under your assumptions, does not mirror the gender gap. The extent at which people favor certain personality traits, regardless of gender, is completely disregarded by your assumptions.
There aren’t any indicators that overlapping or differing personality traits are detrimental during these cooperative problem solving sessions. In mentoring, however, it is important that personality traits are mirrored,⁸³ much in the same way people instinctively feel more comfortable with strangers who look similar to them.⁴³
Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap
This brings us to your suggestions around reducing the gender gap.
◦ We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration.⁵
This activity is actually relating to two issues that are in no way related to gender: two heads are better than one, and to reduce burn-out.⁸⁴ Personality differences do not help or hinder the outcome of problem-solving directly, nor the speed or efficiency at which they are solved. As long as both parties understand the material, and can communicate points effectively, it is better to collaborate than not.⁸¹
Paired programming does not make engineering more people-oriented. Problem solving in an environment which other people are affected by the outcome, and also affected by the product you are building makes software development intrinsically people oriented. Paired programming for mentoring, when competencies can vary and trust can be difficult to develop, personalities should be more similar.⁸³
Different people solve problems in different ways, and while men and women are slightly more likely to favor different types of problem-solving, neither is superior to the other. Different mixtures of problem solving aspects work well for tackling complex puzzles. Different people are interested in solving problems for different reasons, and because of this, it’s better to have a diverse mix of personality types to avoid blind spots while innovating and building.
◦ Allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive… doesn't mean that we should remove all competitiveness…⁵
Just like most things, competitiveness is complex. People of varying personalities and environmental backgrounds vary in competitiveness types, and also in which situations they are more driven by that competitiveness. Women, are generally slightly more competitive than men in some ways,⁸⁵ just like the opposite is true in other ways. This is a part of that gender overlap though, as showing increased neuroticism is an underlying factor in constant self-improvement,⁸⁶ and is partially responsible for women favoring competition with themselves.⁸⁷
◦ Make tech and leadership less stressful.⁵
This should be the case for people in general. This is a good idea, but a bit of a ‘duh’. This doesn’t need to be done for women, it needs to be done for everyone’s benefit. We should be talking about how to accomplish this. I propose company hack-a-thons that are during work hours and do not encourage 72-hour sessions with no sleep so the business can get extra innovation at the cost of employee health.
◦ Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech.⁵
Going to ignore the first sentence, as we’ve already addressed this fallacy, and say that I agree that part time work should be encouraged and endorsed for both men and women to remain productive, healthy, and successful.⁸⁴ A shortened workday in general would reduce stress on those with families and increase the time working mothers and fathers spend with their children, which is inarguably better for those children, and so, better for society.
It would also give those without families the opportunity to feel more productive and engaged outside of work, encouraging healthier work/life balances. Companies over-reward work-a-holics when they are not required to pay them overtime… this needs to stop. Businesses should be encouraging their employees to take care of themselves first.
Men and women need better leave options. Some companies offer reasonably unlimited vacation time, and holiday shutdown periods, but they still fall behind every other developed country in paid leave for new parents.⁸⁸
If men and women had the ability to flex hours or location during work, but still make enough money to make ends meet, we would be better equipped to eliminate the need for expensive, detrimental⁸⁹ daycare.
◦ The male gender role is currently inflexible.⁵
Gender roles are incredibly rigid, and it’s incredible how your thoughts are so tightly coupled with social structure and hierarchies. You truly can alter your actions and outcomes simply by visualizing and believing your are something else inside of that system.⁹¹
Your concern with the philosophical architecture of men and women is the same as our concern.
The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be, rather than recognizing who we are. — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
It takes such a monumental toll on both men and women’s interests, decisions, and perception of their own capabilities. While men and women generally perform equally on well designed math and science tests, women estimate that they performed much worse than they actually do than men do on these tests.⁹²
People will believe messaging they are constantly being pushed, despite any lack of evidence or experience in the subject matter. This is a pretty big reason why your document is so dangerous. White people, for example, believe they are discriminated against with affirmative action, but in reality, they are the biggest beneficiary of it, and a white person’s application is still three times as likely to be selected than that of an Asian’s with the same academic profile.⁹³
Some applicants who were denied in the last 50 years under affirmative action policies believed that those that were accepted were less qualified, despite having no evidence or knowledge of such things. So much so, that many of them sued the universities for discrimination. The reality was, of course, that these applicants were among hundreds of others in terms of performance in grades and test scoring. In Fisher v. University of Texas, Fisher vehemently believed that her 3.9GPA/1190 SAT score was passed over by less qualified applicants of color.⁹⁴
A few are accepted through provisional slots that include attending a summer program prior to the fall. One black student, four Latino students, and 42 white students with lower scores than Fisher were accepted under these terms. Also rejected were 168 African-American and Latino students with better scores than Fisher. — Victoria M. Massie, Jun 23, 2016, Vox.
For someone in the 68th percentile to truly believe that she lost out on competitive admissions because she is white is truly fascinating and baffling.
…men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth
often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable. — Hypatia
I often talk about how arrogant, rude behavior in tech is a defense mechanism due to personal self-deprecating feelings (imposter syndrome vs imposter syndrome). I think this applies here, too. Tech is interesting in that it doesn’t actually fall into either typical sociological gender stereotyping, as being smart, is something that can be perceived as negative in youth for both boys and girls. Boys are more often rewarded for assuming their rigid gender role by being interested in sports.⁹⁵ Boys and men are taught that falling out of these bounds is inherently emasculating. And being emasculated is bad.
Tech has become the acceptable place for boys who do not fit traditional gender roles to shine. I believe this may be why males have become unconsciously territorial over it, trying to explain why women do not belong there with a faulty application of data⁵, and over-the-top harassment. If women embrace tech, and are just as good and useful there, how will non traditionally masculine males feel like men?
This industry’s culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold. — Isis Anchalee⁶⁴
The culture is especially heinous towards women and transgendered individuals, but there is an insularity and profound elitist aroma that permeates throughout tech’s atmosphere and drives good engineers and innovators away.¹⁵³ Men and women are constantly berated for their ‘code quality’ or talked down to because the school they attended was considered lower-tier. Even in open-source, people feel like they are constantly being bullied out of some hierarchical clique of privileged adeptness.¹⁰¹
This arrogant, unprofessional demarcation was essentially accepted as the Revenge of the Nerds, and cultivated itself as tolerance for backlash around bullying of men who didn’t fit stringent gender stereotypes. Basically, they made it cool to be a nerd.
Advertising of computers and gaming in the 1980’s did not only target boys,⁸⁰ they targeted a specific ‘look’ of boy, and this stereotype persisted throughout the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s in television (think Saved by the Bell, Family Matters) and movies (like Revenge of the Nerds and Back to the Future), and in advertising (remember PC vs Mac?). Tech essentially became the place where boys who didn’t fit traditional stereotypes could go for solace. You may be an outcasted nerd, but hey, at least the guys who bully you will eventually pay you to tutor them in math, right?
This inadvertently also affected how people perceive a smart women should and can look, but overly emphasized that she would be more successful and happy if she wasn’t “nerdy”. (think She’s All That). It reinforces that women have to be beautiful to succeed, and that their mind is the lesser, and is a light to be put out.
We have these conflicting reports of how girls are pushed down in schools, and that boys are pushed down in schools.
By virtually every measure, girls are thriving in school; it is boys who are the second sex⁹⁵
…girls are systematically discouraged from courses of study essential to their future employability and economic well-being. — Alice McKee, AAUW
What if it’s just both? Why is it necessary for these to be mutually exclusive ideas? Boys and girls are both encouraged to fit their gender stereotypes, and because of biological nature to be more likely to be willing to chameleon to please others and fit in, they are more likely to succeed in those roles, where boys are more likely to exhibit aggression and act out in response.
Women⁹⁶ and men⁹⁷ both hear social guidelines their entire lives through marketing and advertisements, and through what they are told their entire lives. What’s clear is that both sexes are not accepting as a whole, and everyone feels empowered when their individualism is embraced.
It’s a philosophical struggle because all of these things are biologically-rooted. Our brain is just trying to protect us and persist our species. The more we learn, though, and the more we understand, the better equipped we have become to challenge our inherent drives and biological prototypical design. It simply takes re-arranging our mental systems into more modular, functional, compositional programs. We know this. We’re writing this in Artificial Intelligence. We know we need flexible, composable systems. Why aren’t we applying this to our own minds?
The harm of Google’s biases
◦ Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race⁵
These are necessary as a stop-gap. Programs as a whole were designed without considering blind spots from outside perspectives. It is also need to play ‘catch up’. Think of it like tutoring programs in school for those who have gotten left behind because the system didn’t consider their needs prior to its design.
I promise you, you have resources that were designed to cater just to you, they just weren’t designed that way consciously.
◦ A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates⁵
I agree that this may be an issue. However, even just removing names from resumes does not remove the effect of unconscious biases. This sounds ridiculous, but you can inherently recognize your in-group from language and other patterns you unconsciously notice in a resume.
There should be a better way to ensure you have the best fit, and person with the most potential, but I’m not sure it really matters. There are millions of people that are highly skilled and capable of contributing to the creation of great things, and given that we give our in-group the benefit of being judged on their potential, it’s impossible to use meritocratic measures against all groups, unless you have equal representation on the side that is doing the measuring and in the design of the tools and methodology for comparison.
When there is equal representation at the highest level, and those representatives and systems are truly equal in competence, capability, and in mutual respect, biological obstructions to equality like unconscious biases will no longer be a hindrance.
◦ Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate⁵
Though I don’t have insight into the exact nature of this at Google, this is most definitely a cognitive illusion based on your biases. It’s the same reason why someone with an 1190 and 3.9 GPA believed she was a top candidate and dismissed in favor of colored people. She inherently believes that other races are less capable and less intelligent than she is.
The truth is that affirmative action in employment also benefits white people. Eastern and Western Asians and Pacific Islanders strongly outperform whites in standardized testing, yet they are outnumbered at Google. If you believe that being objective over conscious biases to include them is ‘lowering the bar’, you are just lying to yourself. Males outperform women in a lot of standardized tests, but only within 1%. On the SATs, the margin is only .09% with boys ahead.⁹⁸
These differences, though, are not biological in nature as you would have us believe. We can easily conclude that these results are environmentally influenced, and that they are absolutely not inevitable in an egalitarian society.
Eastern and Western Asian societies, for example, place a heavy emphasis on the importance of academics, and are much less strict than our society on faulting and putting effort into other areas. A black or hispanic student who grows up in a white or mixed household, test scores rise dramatically, especially if that child is of mixed race and can more easily adopt that white society as an integral part of his or her identity.⁹⁹
◦ Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)⁵
Confirmation bias is when you interpret new information to be in support of your theory, without cross-examining the data for underlying factors, other causes, or simply by denying outside information that casts doubt on your interpretation. This is exactly what you have done in your paper.
Teams do not need to be checked for too much diversity. Based on your earlier statements, my assumption is that you want teams to be tested to see if they are meeting Google’s standards? Their interview and recruitment was that test. Their continued employment is that continued test. If you really believe that Google is just letting people sit on the payroll outputting sub-par work for diversity’s sake, you really need to take a deep hard look at your biases, and internalize what they say about you.
People who are fighting biases have to work harder to be perceived as outputting the same amount of effort as their colleagues, and to receive the same amount of merit.¹⁰⁰
For ‘street cred’, this is even more difficult for non-whites, and females of all of ethnicities, as GitHub is the primary source of information about your development history, interests, and capabilities, and white males dominate the scene.¹⁰¹
In the world of Open-Source, developers are known for being hostile and aggressive towards new-comers, engaging in name-calling, and using stereotypes. While this has been stated by minorities repeatedly in the industry, the data makes it clear that what you hear is not an exaggeration.¹⁰¹
While this gives no indication as to the gender or ethnicity of those being aggressed against, we can make a fairly astute hypothesis that this is one of the main reasons that there is such a profound lack of diversity on GitHub.
Confidence affects our behaviors and performance, and even just the anticipation of social exclusion dwindles intelligent thought.¹⁰² The missing component of comfort in a perceived in-group reduces confidence, negatively affects decision-making, and lowers the ability to properly judge and understand communications and expressions in others.¹⁰³ People who lack self-confidence in a situation have a heightened sense of paranoia, are more likely to perceive any criticism as hostility.¹⁰⁴ This engages a perpetuating cycle of a lowered perception of self and degradation of willingness to output.¹⁰⁵
We can also infer that because an individual is much more likely to judge a member of an out-group based on over-scrutinized accomplishments, that it is more difficult for minorities and women to participate at all, and start to build that confidence required to excel.
◦ Setting org level OKRs for increased representation which can incentivize illegal discrimination. We can increase representation at an org level by either making it a better environment for certain groups (which would be seen in survey scores) or discriminating based on a protected status (which is illegal and I’ve seen it done). Increased representation OKRs can incentivize the latter and create zero-sum struggles between orgs.⁵
Setting objectives and key results is simply a leadership process for setting and monitoring goals. This entire statement is based on your personal bias that white people would need to be discriminated against while working toward more equal representation. While this is possible, the goals would have to be much more aggressive than they are. While I agree that making the environment better will organically increase representation, based on all of the data we’ve discovered today, we know that it will not happen naturally. We need affirmative action to counter biases, explicit or otherwise.
I believe that department heads and C-level executives are capable of properly balancing affirmative action to successfully, and fairly, achieve a more diverse organization. A more diverse company is more profitable¹⁰⁶ and discrimination is illegal, even against white people.¹⁰⁷ Trust that Google takes more time to research topics than you do before developing a plan of action that is in their best interests.
These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We’re told by senior leadership that what we’re doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology that can irreparably harm Google.⁵
I want to point out that if any group is being unfairly discriminated against in terms of affirmative action, it is actually Eastern and Western Asians. They consistently outperform all other groups by a significant margin.⁹⁸ No one seems to argue that this is actually biological when explained that it is culturally-based, and I don’t see large groups of conservatives complaining that Asians are getting left behind because of diversity programs… to the contrary, these issues are often flattened by conservative messaging around mythical reverse-racism.¹⁰⁸ Messaging around the probe into affirmative action from the Trump Administration is that the Department of Justice is investigating for racism against white people.¹⁰⁹ However, it’s actually probing for discrimination against Asian-Americans by investigating whether or not universities are capping the number of accepted applicants that check that box.¹¹⁰ You state that diversity programs are the result of false, biased assumptions, but you completely miss how thinly veiled your own are.
You invite us to read a single article on this topic,¹¹² which doesn’t exactly support your position, but with minimal effort I can find an entire web of causes to the racial tensions you mention. This article does not in any way discuss gender. That is your own confirmation bias based on loosely tangentially related information. Most notable, of course, is the flagrant volume of racial stereotypical behavior that happens in universities.¹¹¹ There are also extremely rigid social hierarchies based almost entirely on socioeconomic background and familial ties.
Comparing a work place to this type of institution is irresponsible. The point-deviation scale for racial groups is based on opportunity availability based on background, not just simply race. Whether or not this is beneficial at a high level is, as the article you linked states, unknown. But do not kid yourself, it is not the root cause of the rise in racial tensions. Racism is the cause of it. Classism causes it. Ignorance causes it.
In their book “All That We Can Be” (1996), the sociologists Charles Moskos and John Sibley Butler describe how the U.S. Army escaped from the racial dysfunction of the 1970s to become a model of integration and near-equality by the time of the 1991 Gulf War. The Army invested more resources in training and mentoring black soldiers so that they could meet rigorous promotion standards. But, crucially, standards were lowered for no one, so that the race of officers conveyed no information about their abilities. The Army also promoted cooperation and positive-sum thinking by emphasizing pride in the Army and in America.¹¹²
While this is not a great approach for university admissions (the bar to entrance to the army is much more favorable to a broad spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds, regardless of race), this is a great approach for organizations. This is precisely what you are arguing against. The Army invested more in training a group that had an unfair disadvantage and it was successful.¹¹² Either you didn’t read all eight pages of the article, or you didn’t expect anyone else to read it. Perhaps you just didn’t understand what you read. Dunning-Kruger effect? 🤷
The second qualifier that you state is being faulted is simply your own bias clouding your judgement. The bar is not being lowered at Google, or in other top-tier tech orgs. It is simply your bias that they are less capable than you. Change your vantage point and alter your perspective. They deserve to be there. We deserve to be here.
The interview is a strict evaluation of the candidate’s technical competence and his or her ability to comprehend, address, and resolve the company’s technological challenges. — Bernard Girard, The Google Way, 2009
Google began working on its diversity inclusion program long before you worked there. In November of 2011, they posted a job on LinkedIn with the title Access HR Program Manager, Diversity and Inclusion. In 2012, they teamed up with a Silicon Valley Boot Camp that was seeking to boost diversity in Silicon Valley.¹¹³ If you believe that diversity goals and programming lowered the bar for entry into Google, then they lowered it years before you were ever brought into the fray.
Of course… we know they haven’t. It is simply your own mind playing tricks on you.
Why we’re blind
the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ and sex differences)… the overwhelming majority of humanities and social sciences lean left ( about 95% ), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what’s being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap.⁵
There are fewer researchers and scientists who favor the IQ gender divide than those who have found the research inclusive or falsify the hypothesis altogether.¹¹⁴ This is such a colossal oversight on your part. Recognize your confirmation bias. I don’t particularly care if any group outscores any other group on any IQ test. These tests were designed by people and are inherently flawed. Perhaps I’m not even a genius. Maybe both you and I are falling into a self-fulfilling prophecy of intelligence and capability. It’s possible.⁹¹
The Flynn Effect¹¹⁵ is the quantifiable year over year increase in fluid and crystallized intelligence, as shown in test scores starting in the 1930’s. James Flynn, intelligence researcher, discovered this effect, and his data is what is used to further the dissenting ideas that there is a biological divide in IQ, and that men are inherently more intelligent than women.
In the last 100 years the IQ scores of both men and women have risen, but women’s have risen faster. — James Flynn
Flynn considers himself a social democrat, and while his research attempts to reveal gaps in intelligence quotients, his purpose is societal progress and equality.
He notes that black people also gained more rapidly in IQ than white people, but the gap still widened in some age groups. Flynn vehemently denies that IQ division is biological in nature, and discredits anyone using his research to form a confirmation bias that any race or gender is intrinsically inferior to the others.¹¹⁶
It was not too long ago that Irish immigrants were thought of as biologically inferior, as well.¹¹⁷
The gender wage gap is not a myth.¹¹⁸ You’ve been in the industry for four years. How does one really smart young man wind up believing he’s got decades of wisdom and experience? I’d love to see a 10-page document on that, please be sure to include Wikipedia sources which are poorly cited, lack medical references and verification, and are biased in language and tone.¹¹⁹
Social Constructionism is just one branch of philosophical thinking. Judging by your paper, you seem to be aligned with this theory. “The Social Construction of What?” by Ian Hacking is a surprisingly light, neutral read on the topic for some insight. You want us to believe this conversation, and your point of view, are completely molecular, but a large share of your paper is absolutely not. For example, your struggle with the male gender role. Is this not a social construct you take issue with?
In addition to the Left’s affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females… this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more cooperative and agreeable than men.⁵
Liberals do not see groups of people as weak, they see them as equals, with disadvantaged circumstances. I won’t rehash this, as I hope it’s clear by now.
There has not been a single biological marker found indicating a predisposition to protecting anyone other than one’s self and offspring. What has been found is that people wearing little clothing are perceived by men as being less morally responsible and more sensitive to harm, redistributing the perceived mind on the subject matter.¹²⁰ Since women typically wear more revealing clothing than men, this would lead to what appears to be a genetic preference to protect women. This conclusion is short-sighted and incorrect.
when a man complains about a gender issue issue affecting men, he’s labelled as a misogynist and a whiner⁵
When a man complains about a gender issue affecting men in response to a women’s rights movement, as to take attention away from the women in need, he’s labeled as a misogynist and whiner.
There, I fixed it for you.
You know, the link you provide here goes to an anonymous WordPress blog. I honestly can hardly believe someone who worked at MIT as a research scientist would not only improperly cite a paper, but link to unverifiable sources as his supporting reference. It absolutely blows my mind that people tell you that your paper was well-written. I can’t imagine my high school education was better than yours… and this paper would have been failed by any one of my teachers.
I don’t quite understand this narrative. The only time I’ve ever seen a woman respond negatively to a man crying “men’s rights” is when the basis is in deflection of women’s issues in order to flatten them, or when they are outright ridiculous, such as women flirting with them and deserving to be raped.
Everything I’ve read over the past week has touched on the ways that women and men are pushed into rigid gender identities. This adversely affects gay and transgendered men… but the majority of the aggressors in men’s gender issues is… men.
Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. — Emma Watson, 2014.
Tackling opportunity-limiting power imbalances is the crux of feminism. Just because it was coined feminism doesn’t mean it’s all about women. Is it that much of a mental struggle to lose a single word to grammatical gender?
Our rigid social construction of gender identities cause problems for all of us, some of the male expectations are damning for women. We care. We just don’t want to hear about made up issues that attempt to flatten our own.
Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women’s oppression. As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of “grass being greener on the other side”; unfortunately, taxpayer and Google money is being spent to water only one side of the lawn.⁵
I wish this was hyperbole.
This is just not true. There are many differences that women appreciate. Women view oppression as oppression. We view your bending of data and limited views towards your agenda to be sexist and misogynistic because it is.
Google’s diversity programs have helped Asian-American males more than any other marginalized group, and deservedly so. They are moving in the right direction in at least one area, and I commend them for it. They’ve still got a ton of work to do, which is pretty clear from the fact that someone with your “ideas” was incubating there for nearly four years.
This same compassion for those seen as weak creates political correctness.⁵
You see them as weak, we don’t.
Political Correctness is respecting those in your vicinity. I imagine you are very PC around people you care about.
While Google hasn’t harbored the violent leftist protests that we’re seeing at universities⁵
You see what you want to see. There is violence in both extremes.¹²¹ There are also anarchists who join riots on both sides to incite violence. I’ve witnessed it myself.
…we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology… treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group⁵
Evidence exists in all manner of directions. You didn’t provide anything convincing, nor did you seem to understand plenty of the data you did link to. The main issue is that you didn’t explore other underlying causes or outside influences on any of it. You are biased, and your paper shows it.
Intolerance for views that do not align with your own is natural. It’s why you wrote this paper. Just as people decide whether or not that belief is worth considering, businesses must also do so, and it’s much more complicated for them. Your viewpoint was toxic and terribly supported. You didn’t change anyone’s mind, you just confirmed biases by using big words and coming from a place of socially constructed authority. In fact, people who already buy-in to your viewpoint would likely be overly influenced. With the perception that you should be more liberal, you must be more reasonable.
You aren’t arguing to treat people as individuals. You just wrote a 10 page document on how we fit (overlapping or not) into different boxes that we have no control over. Looking at an individual involves looking at the groups they belong to in order to determine what types of obstacles they have to overcome just to get a seat at the table. Diversity programs do exactly this. They force you to look at someone you may have an unconscious bias against (or in favor of) and ask if you are truly being fair and measuring this person against others at the same level.
◦ De-moralize diversity⁵
Diversity is a deeply ethical issue for people who are adversely affected by it. Businesses have to manage variances in ethics amongst different beliefs across the organization, but since it’s better for the business to be culturally diverse, and there are people being unfairly marginalized.
Studies document that people who aren’t affected by a problem are less likely to empathize with that problem, and in many cases, recognize its validity at all. Men in development do not care as much as the women do about diversity.⁹⁰
Your inability to effectively empathize with those affected by unconscious discrimination does not necessarily make your ideas less valid, but it should help you realize how important it is that all groups need equal representation.
◦ Stop alienating conservatives
— Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity⁵
Viewpoint diversity is the reason diversity is important in the first place. It is not a type of diversity. As previously discussed, a lack of perspective heterogeneity results in products that cater to the groups that design and build it. When UX is only considered by non-UX specialty engineers, the software is unintuitive to non-engineers. This historical misstep of engineers was satirized in HBO’s Silicon Valley, with Pied Piper’s compression cloud storage software application.¹²³
Perception of experience is hierarchal. The most dissenting viewpoints do not come from subgroups of philosophical thought or moral valuation. You have this bias because you see “in highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority”⁵, and faultily attribute it to political orientation. Political orientation is the result of the breadth of perspectives you empathize with and fundamentally understand. More often than not, this is simply because of what types of cultures and socioeconomic environments you are exposed to over time.
People are actually pretty well represented in the population in ideologies.
People who fail to adapt and share in the melting pot of experiences and needs are not necessarily wrong, as the universe is callously neutral on such matters, but certainly too rigid for the progression of the society as a whole. Historically, such groups have typically divided flexibility toward progression from rigid, archaic sameness in geography.¹⁰ We’ve run out of space to do such a thing. So, just as with evolution in nature; adapt or die.¹²⁵
According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself. — Leon C. Megginson, 1963.
This comparison to the discrimination and deadly violence that homosexual and transgendered individuals face is offensive and ignorant:
…conservatives…feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility⁵
Even more offensive is the congruity the author of the article you linked¹²⁶ and the author of the book it is marketing¹²⁷ found between feeling you have to hide your Republican-ness and being gay or black in the 1950’s. Republicans are not being gunned down in the streets or legally segregated by society. Government services such as police are not harassing them and treating them like second-hand citizens.
I am the equivalent of someone who was gay in Mississippi in 1950. — Anonymous self-proclaimed conservative professor¹²⁷
I find it incredibly disheartening that men I believe to be highly intellectually capable can be so ignorant and short-sighted. You can and should discuss conservative views. There are numerous topics that are discussed, mulled over, and compromised on in our government. We all agree that they do a okay job of representing the majority of people accommodating these view points in education, healthcare, taxes, and immigration. Do not confuse the loudest dissenters on either side to be representative of the entire republic. Most people are generally satisfied or neutral.¹²⁸
When your views are racist, homophobic, misogynist, or otherwise bigoted, you should be called out on it. Not because I believe anyone should be verbally or physically abused, I do not, but because it is you that needs to listen. When your view is dehumanizing, you should not involve yourself in the conversation. The desire to protect your in-group is an evolutionary, natural trait.¹²⁹ The in-group, though, is not rigidly bound to our physical sameness, nor our similarities of experience.¹³⁰ It is you that is resisting acceptance, not the opposite.
The idea that tolerance and diversity is an intolerant monoculture is absurd and oxymoronic.
Groups that feel threatened, such as your conservative examples above, act to perpetuate inequalities out of self-preservation. While this is evolutionarily beneficial, especially retrospectively to survival prior to the Information Age, pivoting to critical thought is vital now. There is terrible poverty on both ends of the spectrum, and they all desperately need our altruism and kinship to survive and thrive.
— …conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness⁵
The only resources you use to talk about personality traits come from the same few sources and a single methodology. This is not good for an academic position on anything, let alone “How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion”.⁵ This methodology has been slammed by numerous psychologists⁵¹ and philosophers, as discussed previously.
Personality traits have been shown to be heritable.¹³¹ Families tend to remain in their in-group. Political philosophies are socially constructed. Political orientations are stretched around those in-groups to more effectively govern the varied population. This doesn’t support your argument in any way. Personality influences political leanings, not the other way around. To frame it as such is political propaganda.
Personality traits can — and do — change over time.¹³² And while personality traits can help predict behavior, behavior is not deterministic, and more influenced by nurture than nature.¹³³
Your position that conservatively leaning people are required for the maintenance of a mature company is false. The personality trait variance among political leanings is not as pronounced as you’ve led yourself to believe, and people tend to attempt to offset their perceived negative personality traits with structure, a fortiori with advanced technology (bless you Apple, for my dozens of reminders).
Someone with lower conscientiousness that catalyzes itself as losing track of time may structure their day in a semi-rigid fashion with alarms and reminders. Or so I’ve heard from a friend. This person may be a typical ‘procrastinator’ by observation, but may have a strong sense of responsibility towards others and ownership in task completion. The big-five personality traits are merely a high-level overview.¹³⁴
Furthermore, political agendas are obviously masked in propaganda. Someone who is highly conscientious, for example, is more willing to defer immediate gratification for a long-term benefit. If a political candidate wants the vote of this person, they may oversell the idea that your current suffering will pay off in the long-run.
We see this phenomenon heavily in poor, rural areas of America. Technological advancements have disproportionately adversely affected these areas, and political leaders capitalize on their personality traits to seek alignment and gain their favor, despite a repeated failure to deliver the American Dream.
You care about the system, and you claim to care about the conservative voice. Do you care that you have been a part of effectively replacing human beings with non-sentient machines?
Having representative viewpoints is important for those designing and testing our products, but the benefits are less clear for those more removed from UX.⁵
Broad perspective representation is not only important because of end users. It is important, too, because problem solving involves not only solving the task you are handed, but doing so in a manner that is defensive and flexible. Without dissenting viewpoints (which you are arguing for from your perspective, but against here?), you cannot catalyze change. Change can be in invention in terms of new product offerings, sure, but it can also be process change, and tools to help make your job more efficient.
Imagine if Katherine Johnson never argued for the computer, and verified its accuracy to NASA,¹³⁵ and everyone continued to homogeneously reject the new ‘toy’. Can you envision the rolling back of the immense progress that ensued?
You need to realize that you are a user, too, and that not all ideas are extraverted in nature.
Conservatives in rural America that have been replaced by robotics are users, and they need empathy and solutions to rebuild their lives in this technological society. Their viewpoint is necessary. Other viewpoints are necessary. None is superior.
Engineering is problem solving. A large part of problem solving is pattern recognition. In terms of end-users, this is closely related to creating intuitive interfaces and desirable features. Patterns are reinforced by experience, so the more patterns you experience, the more able you are to quickly perceive and process them.¹³⁶ Catalysts for growth and progression typically are more open to exploration, and new patterns.
When I’m designing an architectural solution, I first consider the input I expect, and the most useful output. This continues to build until I have considered all possible aspects of the data itself, and how it could or does influence and affect other data for the best output. I consider patterns of past data, and data solutions during this process. Blind spots can occur in various levels of software.
You can really only write things in “the most efficient way” within the context of what it is you know. There are probably better ways that combine the parts of many individual’s thought processes to solve most of the problems we solve every day.
Diverse systems are stronger.¹³⁷
◦ De-emphasize empathy⁵
You’re just fighting biology here.⁶⁶ Empathy is the force that moves businesses forward.¹³⁸ The constant perception and understanding to others in the system is necessary in every aspect of an organization. For us it is in how we write code, how we design systems, and how we document those solutions.
Official documentation is the main way that developers learn new technology and methodologies. It’s also how we efficiently on-board new employees in a tech organization. You write documentation out of empathy and future-proof efficiency.
Unfortunately, the experience users have is that documentation is often poor or missing. Without this empathetic view, and without diverse viewpoints to recognize it’s missing, we fail a lot of developers who could be great assets.
◦ Prioritize intentions
— Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isn’t backed by evidence.⁵
You really fail to see how your own biases lead to hypocritical positions. People who unintentionally harm others shouldn’t be coached on how to avoid it with political-correctness and empathy, but we should empathize with the aggressor’s right to act comfortably, because he or she isn’t intentionally causing damage?
Intention is considered, and that’s why there’s coaching. You learn not to do it at all. I’ve never seen a situation where an unintentional microaggression (that wasn’t blatantly racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted) led directly to harsh punishment. I’ve always seen it coached. This is compromise. This is teamwork. This is harmony. This is psychological safety.
You misquote your source, as it says the evidence is weak,¹³⁹ and other scholars say that the actions are outpacing the evidence available.¹⁴⁰ Others simply advise that it is necessary to accept these cause and effect relationships in behavior exist, and that they need to be studied over time to be properly analyzed and understood.¹⁴¹
The true tale of the hunt will never be told as long as the hunter tells the story — African Proverb
I found 552 different pieces of academia that were published since January of 2017, and the overwhelming majority of them were concluded with implications that microaggressive activities have a negative impact on social settings and victims,¹⁴² and support the initial understanding from a social worker’s perspective of microaggressions.
It is important we defer to those that are harmed by microaggression while learning about it. There is no single story.¹⁴³
This doesn’t mean we inherently punish the ignorant. It means we coach and learn from each other on how to be our best selves to create great products.
◦ Be open about the science of human nature⁵
That’s what all of this is about. I don’t believe leadership at Google is urging for diversity in denial of biology or evolution.
Recognize that human nature is far more complex than a simple deterministic blueprint. Realize that social constructs are complex electro-chemical reactions, as intangible as your own thoughts, but no less real than your own hand.
Whether or not we truly have free will, or simply the perception of free will, we live in an adaptive complex system, with a kaleidoscopic array of interactions occurring simultaneously causing tuple upon tuple of reactive interactions. While we can’t claim to fully understand, or even to have identified all of them, we do know that these interactions are constantly evolving and modifying themselves in an ever-changing system.¹⁴⁴
In programming systems, we always value improvement over optimization. Technical debt rarely gets much surface time unless the system is being overhauled in some way. Parts that remain at equilibrium are nearly always considered dead, and legacy. Because technology is constantly improving, we develop models to anticipate how to effectively adapt with these changes, in order to improve our own systems as well.
Consider your willingness to context-shift with progress in tech, and compare it to your rigidity as it applies to the system of humankind. Yes, men and women have differences, but gender stereotyping amplifically distorts those differences.
While there are small deviations in gender stereotypical personality types within OCEAN, the scale at which does not reflect at all in the gap itself. We show that interest increases dramatically for girls when we consider how people are motivated, how they learn, and give them parity in role models they can mimic.
Trying to account for an 80% bias by arguing that 1% of it may be genetic is irresponsible. It’s not that there aren’t biological differences, it’s that they do not matter in the way you’re platforming.
◦ Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees
— Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the training suggests (I’m not advocating for using stereotypes, I just pointing out the factual inaccuracy of what’s said in the training)⁵
Unconscious Bias training is necessary, under any context. Education about something you’re blind to is incredibly important, and your ‘reason for writing this document’.⁵
I am so fascinated and disturbed by your affections for majority group variances, but desire for your own individuality in a group you feel ostracized by. This phenomenon is a part of your unconscious bias to see your own group as diverse and varied in thought, but to see your out-group as homogenous.¹⁵⁰
You: “Treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group”
Also You: “Stereotypes are true”
That’s a low-brow simplification of what you said, but you should be aware of how ridiculously hypocritical many facets of this paper are.
The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. The consequence of the single story is this: it robs people of dignity. — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Preservation of human dignity is the core of our republic.¹¹^¹⁵⁴ It is possible to recognize your perception is inherently incomplete and that while you look at something from your vantage point it may be something completely different than it appears to be to you.
Albert Einstein led us to one of the most key clues to the human condition, his prediction that even time itself is not constant, and dependent on the vantage point of the observer in the system.¹⁴⁵
You don’t have all of the information. Be open to the fact that the information that you’re blind to is hurting someone else. Be willing to be empathetic to that other perspective.
If you cannot be willing to improve yourself, you cannot expect others to be willing to understand your story, either. If you cannot accept that a part of your will to dismiss change is rigid and dead to the system, consider that it’s best that you are no longer a part of that system, and deprecate yourself amicably, and with understanding, lest ye be cut from the system in favor of improvement for the majority.
When you are sitting in your community, sheltered and protected, where everything is momentarily predictable, the last thing you want to do is say, “Hmmmm, I wonder what is on the other side of the hill?” Bad idea! The probability of dying just suddenly increased considerably. But it is because of that “mad” individual that the group has a better chance to survive in an environment that is dynamic — by learning what dangers or benefits are on the other side of that hill, and perhaps discovering new spaces of possibility that the group hadn’t known existed.¹⁴⁶
Points from your paper I think are important:
- Biological differences are inherent, including personality traits.
The degree to how much environment influences personality is unknown, though assumed to be quite notable, given the plasticity of the brain at birth. Biological differences do not imply qualitative inequality. Biological differences do not deterministically influence behaviors. Personality traits do not explain gaps.
Personality differences are an important consideration in mentoring, or in collaboration when there is a variance in competency.
- Personality deviations overlap among genders, though deviate in slight favoritism per gender.
The deviations do not explain the gap in gender, nor the gap in pay. Though tests do indicate that there is favored gender in each point of the big-five, the big-five is not the only measure of personality, and many disagree with the over-simplistic nature of OCEAN. To properly explore this theory, women in engineering versus women outside of engineering would need to be studied and researched. It would be important to keep the perspective that the human condition is influenced heavily by environment during this study, and not to fall prey to the single story.
We need representation from various backgrounds, genders, and personality types to create better programs for a more diverse pipeline.
- Not everyone has the same biological ability to empathize with others.
Organizations should explore resources to offer behavioral therapy techniques to help catalyze empathy in those who have difficulty understanding and stepping into the shoes of their colleagues.
- Men’s gender roles are too rigid, and need spotlight, too.
I won’t speak for men, but I agree that this is a problem that needs addressing. It affects women, too. If the term feminism is too polarizing, perhaps we need to look at calling it something else. When we are politically correct, we change masculine terms to neutral terms. Perhaps we should come up with a neutral term to quit bickering over whether or not cis-men have gender issues, too.
Or we could just start speaking in Spanish, a language which embraces linguistic gender. 🤷
- Current Diversity Programming is not effective.
Though the representation of Asians has increased significantly over the last three years, there has been little movement in overall diversity. The programs need to be evaluated, but not because they are discriminatory. We need more full pipeline resources, and higher visibility on those resources. We need the hidden historical role models we find to not only be women, not only ethnically-diverse women, but non-white men, too. Organizations need to get involved in these resources and waterfall down into the smallest crevice as leaders.
- Make tech and leadership less stressful.
- Endorse part-time and remote-flexible work.
- We can increase representation at an org level by making it a better environment.
Offer more coaching for people with rigid viewpoints to help lower their sense of danger for change, and help them climb over the hills. If they are still unwilling to pivot, coach out amicably.
Get sufficient feedback and input from a variety of sources to avoid blindspots in programming and engagement.
- Bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion
Your document displays this perfectly, though not in the way you intended. You did disclaim in the footnotes of your second page (v1.1) that you may be biased, but your tone doesn’t really communicate that you really believe that. In short, you are. We all are terribly flawed and incapable of truly objective reasoning. You are missing a lot of data around how diversity is good for the brain, and good for the business. You see yourself as an individual of conservative male whiteness, but diversity as homogenous. You assert that encouraging diversity and including others is exclusionary because you see a shrinking percentage, not a diversely growing whole.
- Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence
I’m sure you feel this is correct now that you’ve been let go from Google, but I hope that everyone can be as objective as humanly possible and consider that we don’t have all of the information. Google has an expansive legal team and talented, intelligent leadership and human resources. I imagine this firing serves your agenda more than it is favored by their organization.
‘pc-considered-harmful’ will go on without you.
That being said, Google’s “monoculture” is far from PC, and the toxic cliquey culture is complained about by many that don’t fit in. They have worked to increase diversity and inclusion in response.
Did it ever occur to you that you might just be… wrong? Or maybe your anti-progressive nature is just not a good fit for Google, or even tech in general.
- The authoritarian element that’s required to actually discriminate to create equal representation
You didn’t prove this stance in any way. From the article you linked:
◦ PC-Authoritarians tended to attribute a biological basis for group differences
◦ PC-Authoritarians tended to be more religious, have higher sensitivity to disgust and contamination
◦ PC Authoritarians’ support of policies involving censorship and harsh punitive justice is driven by the desire to shield themselves from any discomforting experiences
Your entire stance on the “authoritarian” aspect is flawed and misguided. PC-Authoritarians are conservative-extremists, looking to protect their own selfish interests, including at the cost of others.
- The … preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and … explain why we don’t see … equal representation of women in tech and leadership
You didn’t provide any support of this, or any methodologies for guidance with the data sources you used. It was quite easy to proof out that your conclusion was false.
The only thing differences in personality explain are why mentoring-collaboration doesn’t work when there isn’t parity between collaborators. This wasn’t gender-specific at all. It only tells us that we need better representation in the pipeline, which is precisely what we argue is needed to close the gap.
The perception of various ethnic groups, and women, or your colleagues in general, as being less competent, or people perceiving themselves to be less competent (imposter syndrome), is detrimental to team health and collaboration as an equally capable team. It causes teams to lose psychological safety, and that is precisely why your document is harmful to your colleagues.
It is impossible for a human being to be objective.¹⁴⁶ Your mind will always be polluted with its desire for the familiar and stable. Our system is adaptive, and so, it adapts. This is a struggle for everyone, though more so for high conscientious personalities. Culture is not an excuse to dehumanize anyone. People make the culture, culture does not make the people. Culture is adaptive.
We’re different. We’re similar. We’re competitive. We’re cooperative. We all work really hard, together, to advance our society and make really cool things. Women and men have quantifiable dominating biological differences. No one is denying such things. The slight dominance does not account for the gender gap, and women are not inferiorly suited for computer science.
It is important that we work towards equal representation and avoid homogenous-minded design in our systems. Biases have already been written into some programs,¹⁴⁸ and we are in danger of automating biases into intelligent assistants. This is a critical point in technology, before it propels forward out of our control.
If you believe in individualism stop trying to tell our story for us. Diversity is key to business growth, and a catalyst for innovation. You must adapt or die in stagnation; to be deprecated from the system.
We live by each other and for each other. Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. — Helen Keller
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