Anti-women activists

(written by lawrence, however indented passages are often quotes)

How much should gender be allowed into a posting that advertises a job? This is wisely said:

I think that we (as a society) want young people to see all avenues as open to them regardless of gender. I highly doubt that the company doesn’t want to hire women or has any sexist intention. However, it is unwise for us (as individuals and an industry) to use terms like “brogrammer” because it subtly suggests gender. One might not mean it as gendered, but certainly some young people will and will internalize it as meaning that “programming is really a guy’s thing”. This is compounded by the fact that programming is a field where women aren’t well represented. I’m not suggesting quotas or anything like that. I’m simply suggesting that when people are thinking about their future, perceptions about industries affect their decisions and terms like “brogrammer” can create perceptions.

The same could be said if a library position were to use female-gendered terminology. Library science is a field that is predominantly women and using female-gendered language can only help to reenforce that perception. We don’t want to force males into library science, but we also don’t want young males to feel like they shouldn’t go into it “because it’s women’s work”.

When someone says that something is “sexist”, I think a lot of people become defensive because they aren’t sexists. I doubt that the person who wrote the post is sexist. However, a person who believes in equality can say something that negatively impacts that goal in our society. I don’t know if it should be called sexist, but I do think that it negatively affects what we generally want in our world and our companies. Maybe not a lot, but it’s something to think about when writing things in the future.

Someone also wrote:

Woman programmer here: I automatically assumed they were looking for college aged men. “Brogrammer,” is not a unisex term, no matter how they try to spin it.

So what does “brogrammer” really mean. Quora offers some excellent insights, with How does a programmer become a brogrammer:

I write code in between push-ups


Polo, tight so the chicks can see how defined your muscles are

Sunglasses, mostly mirrored aviators and multi-colored wayfarers, but mostly any type of sunglasses are accepted

Always look good, always.

What to do:

Code, always test your code, not testing is a douchegrammer move.

Code, often. Code hard.

Rage in PHP or your favorite language, just code.

Rage at the gym, to attract the chicks and scare the dicks.

Rage in the club, be sure to wear the proper attire as stated above.

Listen to ice cream paint job by Dorrough, and live it.

So, is a specific gender suggested by that?

Someone else wrote:

Everything I know about Brogrammers I learned from the movie Swordfish.
A Brogrammer….

can work well under the tightest deadlines, or while receiving oral sex.

maintains a solid 120 wpm on the keyboard while drunk and dancing

can figure out how to drive a stick in the middle of a gunfight

doesn’t make johnny five style comments (“nice software”) around the ladies

This image is up for reference:

The folks who are advertising this job could write it anyway they wanted to. Nobody forced them to use the word “brogrammer”. They used that word because they like the connotations that the word has. And they wanted to appeal to people who also like the connotations of the word, and who fit the type.

This is in 2011. Circa 1980 you might hear some old-timers complain that women don’t belong in the work place, and you could think, “That generation will die off soon and the younger generation knows better.” But this post is from folks in their early 20s. Think about it.

For some reason, there are men in the tech industry who have fairly strong biases against women:

My wife is an IT manager. She knows Unix, can code, debug nasty windows problems, and gets shit done. Still, coworkers, new hires, and people who don’t know her try to address her male subordinates during escalated issues assuming the men are the ones who know what they’re doing.

> I highly doubt discrimination is the reason behind the
> low numbers of women in tech, for example.

I’m guessing you’re a young man. Are you sure you’re really in a good position to claim that? She often thinks of leaving the field because over time, it wears at her. I can give dozens of other examples.

And then there is this: Female FOSS dev quits tech industry due to harassment:

Repeated online harassment, all of it based on her sex, has forced a prominent female open source developer and community organiser to quit the tech industry and also rethink her participation in LCA 2012.

Alex “Skud” Bayley, (until recently known as Kirrily Robert), a resident of Melbourne who was working on, an open data repository acquired by Google in 2010, is scheduled to give a talk on “Saving Australian music, the open source way” at the Australian national Linux conference in Ballarat in January.

Bayley wrote, in a blog entry for the Geek Feminist website, which she founded, that she feared harassment from an individual who goes by the online nomenclature Markus G.

Someone posting under the same moniker had sent an abusive email to a woman at the time when the issue of technologist Mark Pesce’s keynote address to the 2011 Linux conference was being discussed; Pesce, as may be recalled, was censured by the conference organisers for the use of images deemed to be sexual in nature, to illustrate his talk.

In the post, Bayley traced her targetting for harassment back to an address to the O’Reilly Open Source Convention in 2009 about the participation of women in FOSS projects. Online, the text of the talk attracted a big audience, and among them were some who were apparently not prepared to let a woman speak her mind.

One of those who has harassed her and a number of other women has been an individual who goes by the moniker MikeeUSA, Bayley wrote. (This individual has also posted to the iTWire forums). A second had been a Wikipedia troll who had found his way to her employer’s online database and tried to fill it with rubbish. And a third person kept phoning various people’s workplaces and accusing them of being involved in child pornography.

One of the men in the comments at Hacker News responded:

Last year at FooCamp I went to a panel about women in tech (I believe I was the only guy) for two reasons:

1) I have no qualms about offending people if I feel my point is valid, and in fact enjoy being in situations where I risk such things (I find it incredibly rewarding to have meaningful discussions about things that are considered taboo).

2) To find out what the problem was

Let me clarify #2: I didn’t see a problem within my circles other than the fact that there were few women in startups. I didn’t see blatant sexism, I didn’t see harassment, I didn’t see something that I was comfortable changing to encourage women in my industry. I still occasionally quote South Park or make a dirty joke, but nothing targets women specifically: I just can have a crude sense of humor. Was that what women were concerned about? Were they offended by my jokes, expecting me to be stiff as a board to avoid offending them? In my opinion that’s expecting special treatment and is sexism in and of itself.

In my YC class the 4 women were respected and treated like peers. Yes, I’m sure there was some flirting, but I didn’t see anything that I wouldn’t consider more offensive than I’ve seen guys do to each other on a regular basis.

What I learned was actually very interesting: from their perspective I was not the problem. Somehow in the middle of the media hype about sexism, I had assumed I must be doing something wrong and was trying to figure out what was inappropriate about my behavior. It turns out there’s a whole group of men in tech who are blatantly offensive, harassing, and generally sexist towards women just because they were women. I genuinely think most men are in the better bucket: we aren’t offensive, and provide mostly non-hostile work environments. We are not part of the problem. On the other hand, I bet a lot of us aren’t part of the solution.

This needs to not be a “men vs women” battle: this needs to be a “people vs jerks” battle. There are a few sour apples poisoning the environment for everyone, and it needs to stop. I do think the only way to fix this is for there to be a social change, but most men just need to change the way they act towards other men. Don’t allow it to be ok when one guy crosses the line, and don’t just assume HR will take care of it. Call him out on it. I’m confident that that’s all 99% of guys need to (and can) do to help with this problem.

Women now make up 50% of all new doctors and more than a third of all new lawyers, but there are actually less women graduating with advanced degrees in computer science than there were in 1989. Women are clearly willing to work extremely long hours at work that is intellectually demanding, so as to get into high paying professions. My female friends who became doctors all had several years where they had to work 80 hours a week, sometimes 100 hours a week. So long hours and intellectual rigor can not explain the absence of women from tech. The question again arises, why are women making rapid advances in nearly all of the professions, except for tech?

The New York Times reported on the contempt women run into when they seek funding for startups in the tech field:

Another potential backer invited her for a weekend yachting excursion by showing her a picture of himself on the boat — without clothes. When a third financier discovered that her husband was also a biking enthusiast, she says, he spent more time asking if riding affected her husband’s reproductive capabilities than he did focusing on her business plan.

Ultimately, none of the 30 venture firms she pitched financed her company. She finally raised $1.8 million in March 2008 from angel investors including Golden Seeds, a fund that emphasizes investing in start-ups led by women.

“I didn’t know things like this still happened,” says Ms. Fleming, 37. “But I know that, especially in risky times like the last couple years, some investors kind of retreat to investing via a template.” A company owned by a woman, she adds, “is just not the standard template.”

Though many people say that outright sexism is rare in the tech world these days, the barriers that Ms. Fleming encountered aren’t unusual. Tech communities in Silicon Valley and in other hubs — like New York, Austin, Tex., and Boston, where Ms. Fleming lives — pride themselves on operating as raw meritocracies ready to embrace anyone with a good idea, regardless of education, age or station in life.

For women, though, that narrative often unfolds differently.

Women own 40 percent of the private businesses in the United States, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. But they create only 8 percent of the venture-backed tech start-ups, according to Astia, a nonprofit group that advises female entrepreneurs.

That disparity reaches beyond entrepreneurs. Women account for just 6 percent of the chief executives of the top 100 tech companies, and 22 percent of the software engineers at tech companies over all, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. And among venture capitalists, the population of financiers who control the purse strings for a majority of tech start-ups, just 14 percent are women, the National Venture Capital Association says.

What to make of this kind of active harassment? And who would post a job advertisement like that in 2011?

Some people are activists. They go beyond merely having an opinion. They don’t just read about bank bailouts and grumble to their friends about how corrupt the world is, instead, they go and Occupy Wall Street. These people are dedicated to a cause. They are willing to commit time, energy and money to their cause. They are willing to suffer personal discomfort to further their cause. They are willing to suffer things that might be personally embarrassing or harmful, to further their cause.

There are some men who support feminist goals, and other men who disagree with those goals. There is a 3rd group of men who might best be described as anti-women activists. They go beyond having an opinion. If they feel women shouldn’t have a particular type of job, then they actively harass those women, sort of like the protesters of Occupy Wall Street will harass derivatives traders.

Anybody posting that kind of an advertisement for a job in 2011 has to be considered an anti-woman activist.