All of the great and good people of my acquaintance told me how wonderful was Kelly Ellis’ blog post, “Stop Telling Women What They Aren’t Capable Of”. Naturally, it sucked.
Ellis starts by examining the dynamics of the tech worker gender gap. As I stated in my previous post, it’s difficult to find diversity material containing hard data.
Nearly all discussions on how to improve tech’s gender problems focus on the so-called “pipeline problem.” Since that’s a reasonable critique related to girls’ CS education that I wish Hardaway had discussed, I’ll outline it here before responding to the specifics of her post.
The pipeline problem is the suggestion that the primary reason that there are so few women in tech today is that there just aren’t enough women and girls in the pipeline (same goes for minorities, but I’ll focus on gender since the original post does). So we advocate for teaching coding skills to girls, and increasing the number of women majoring in Computer Science, in order to get more women “into the pipeline” of software engineers for hire.
There are a few problems with this one-pronged approach. First, it doesn’t address a very major problem: women who do make it into the so-called pipeline leave the industry at much higher rates than men. 57% of women who enter careers in the technology industry end up quitting. Of those women, 38% report that “hostile macho culture” was a contributing factor to their decision to quit. 27% report compensation as a factor. One in three professional tech women report encountering dismissive attitudes from colleagues.
So there are some statistics, but we can’t do much with them. Saying that 57% of women techies quit doesn’t convey much when there are no statistics for men to compare to, and no timeframe. (If anything 57% seems low, as I don’t encounter many 50 or 60-year old software devs.) And the figures on why women quit must be regarded with extreme skepticism, given the degree to which academia and intellectuals are enamored of social justice theory. Tomorrow I will read in the paper that “38% of young Southeast Asian women reported that a hostile macho culture was a contributing factor in failing to pursue a career as an NBA player.”
The post then gets into a bit of a muddle — Ellis discounts the virtue of building up the pipeline, though it’s not clear what her proposed alternative is. (If you take women off the street with some sort of college degree and attempt to fit them as programmers … expect a lot more than a third of them to “encounter dismissive attitudes from colleagues.”)
After this aside, Ellis digs in to respond to Hardaway.
And it gets embarrassing.
Her first salvo is an animated gif of a woman flipping the bird. Or, I suppose, two birds. This might be acceptable, were Ellis twelve years old.
What follows is about a dozen paragraphs of argumentation interspersed with more abuse, in the form of snotty gifs and straight up verbal nastiness. While Ellis probably has a reasonable point about Hardaway’s characterization of coding, let’s be real, what offends her is that Hardaway dared to say the unspeakable: That women have different aptitudes and preferences from men.
It’s almost as if evolution were not just a club with which to beat dim-witted religious people.
And I don’t know how little self-awareness you must have to complain that women in tech encounter dismissive attitudes, and then to write
“AHAHAHHAA go away.”
But it must not be a lot.