I Made A Mistake….

…..and read that Google’s engineer’s manifesto.

Subtitle: The guy should have been fired for stupidity.

Sub-subtitle: How many logic fallacies can be in one document?

Sub-sub-subtitle: That argument for how vibrators will help more women rise in tech?

Sub-sub-sub-subtitle: What fucking year is this again?

Sub-sub-sub-sub-subtitle: Wonder if that Google guy has ever been laid?

Ok, that last one is sexist……I admit it.  I own it.  I’m kinda sorry for it – but, well, only kinda.

But damn.

While I’ve read conservatives and other men are up in arms that this man spoke his opinion and got fired, I think men and conservatives should make sure that they really want this guy speaking for them.  I get its freedom of speech and all – but damn – how many degrees of stupid was this? I mean honestly.

I’ve gone back and forth what to write about this since it came out.  Honestly, I have about half a dozen drafts sitting there – yet I’m starting over yet again.

I guess the challenge I’m having is that it is easy for a guy who hates the diversity training at work go on and stereotype women and claim biology using carefully selected “scientific” articles.  But as a woman in technology, I just shake my head.  I shake it because I’m in my mid-40s – and I can tell you all of the ways – all of the obstacles that tried to keep me from getting here.  And my perseverance is what got me here.  Reading about how I was overcoming my biology to do so just makes me fucking shake my head.

Because I know others women who grew up in rural Iowa with me who wanted to go into technology – who wanted to pursue something math and science related – and were discouraged everywhere.  Those of us who found our way did so because we got a female teacher in the math department who challenged a lot of the norms.  When she coached volleyball, for example, she refused to call the team the “Tigerettes” or the “Lady Tigers” which was the tradition.  She pointed out that a female tiger is called neither of these things – they are still called tigers.  So that is what she did.  I recall vividly overhearing other male coaches and teachers bitch that she was doing that – who the fuck did she think she was?  It must be because she thinks she is better than everyone else.  They honestly said that.

She never gave special treatment to the girls in her class.  Unless you consider special treatment to mean she treated us the same as the boys.  Her expectations were the same regardless of what was or was not between your legs.  She believed everyone could succeed – you just needed to put in the work.   This was fundamentally different than what most of us heard throughout our lives.  Even I was encouraged to do better in English classes and social studies – while my poor performance in math and science was expected.  I should mention that the boys were expected to do well in math and science while getting a bye for not doing so well in English classes and social studies.

Some of this is the classic debate between nature and nurture except with sex being the focus.  While science will say there is a physiological difference between a male and a female brain, they will also point out that given a brain – they won’t necessarily be able to guess if it was taken from a male or female.  While psychologists will say that women are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, they will also point out that men are more likely to self-medicate using alcohol and drugs and more men commit suicide from undiagnosed depression than women.

I am always wary of programs aimed at increasing the hiring of women into certain companies.  I worry that people will check the box and put people in positions and roles that they are not suited for – all because they are trying to increase the number of women.  But I look at attitudes and wonder where ARE the women in terms of applying.  Even at my own company, I am the second woman that has ever worked there in IT.  In 25 years, there has only been 2 of us.  Why is that?  I think those are interesting questions to ask.  But know there are no easy answers.

I do know this – being a woman in tech is hard.  It is hard because the pressure to succeed by “acting more male” is strong.  That has been something that has been a struggle for me because, well, I am female – I like being female – but to “act” female is often times seen as a negative.   I now focus on being me above all else, but I’ve worked at places where it hasn’t mattered. I still got verbally patted on the head and put into roles viewed as “female’ roles.  Not surprising, that place required a man to put forth the changes I had been suggesting for 2 years. Ultimately it is why I left IT for another department at that company.

Despite everything this guy wrote whether it be about men and women or liberals and conservatives, he was wrong. His core argument was a logic fallacy – specifically “false cause“.  His desire to stereotype all groups in a narrow way should be scorned.  I joke, but really he should have lost his job for being stupid.  Seriously.  If he goes that route with an argument, what kind of programmer could he really be?   I don’t say that to be mean – but because in order to code or solution anything, you have to do root cause analysis.  You cannot stop where you want – you have to stop where the root cause is – and solve that.  Anything else is a band-aid – and most developers hate band-aids.

And maybe, to be fair, that is his underlying concern.  That the programs and all are band-aids – not fixing the real issue.  But the real issue is not that we are going against science and biology by wanting more females in tech and math and science and engineering.  The real issue is asshats like this guy who believe it goes against biology.  Tell that to the women in the Nordics that routinely out perform the men in math on the SATs.  Or the women in Japan who always do just as well as their male counterparts.  It is the attitude that goes a long way.  It is the belief that women can be whatever they want – just like men can. That is the true problem.  We judge people and their decisions as not being very masculine or feminine and hold up those things society has judged as appropriate as the gold standard.   That is the fucked up bullshit that is happening.

Manifestos like this one – they feed into the bullshit – not try to disrupt it as he believed it would.

I don’t have the answer.  I decided long ago that all I could do is make sure my daughters don’t believe they are victims.  That they don’t believe they are less anything or anyone.  And that they could do whatever the fuck they wanted to do – limitations be damned.  And when my oldest DJ comments she is not good at math, I am the voice that says that is bullshit and I push her forward.  Just like I would do any kid of mine – male or female.  That is how we will change things – by not caring about the sex of people – and care more about their desire to succeed and conquer.

But what do I know, my biology tells me that I am to care more about people than ideas.

What do you think?

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