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Feminism 2017

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Mordecai, Jul 1, 2017.

  1. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus Prestige DLP Supporter

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    ...did you read it?

    He's theorising on the possible reasons for the gender representation gap on average using biological data as evidence.

    Just saying he's dumb over and over doesn't do anything, and it frankly confuses me a fair bit.

    I don't think most people on his side are 'outraged' because they agree, disagree with him if you like (I'd advise to challenge his evidence and numbers instead of calling him 'dumb' and coming off as a five year old). I think it has a hell of a lot to do with the ridiculous overreaction to a think-piece, and the depressing nature of modern-day debate.

    At least it's depressing to me.
     
  2. Dark Belra

    Dark Belra Minister of Magic

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    I read it. I read the entire thing and it's beyond dumb.

    First of all, on the engineering side. The author says something along the lines where maybe we should make engineering roles more pair-programming orientated to take advantage of women's traits however he laments that not all roles in engineering can be this way. This is the kind of thinking some lonely person who decided to go into engineering because they think it will mean they never have to deal with people ever again in their lives. This is blatantly wrong. This is beyond wrong. Engineering isn't some solitary practice where you have to deal with nothing but optimizing whatever problem you have to deal with. Engineering is all about solving problems and to figure out what a problem is, you need to be empathetic to people's problems, it helps to have a diverse team for this actually. This makes his whole de-emphasize empathy paragraph really dumb. If you ever read any kind of engineering blogs of companies, you will always find some common theme, they talk about the kind of people they want to solve problems for, and then they consider a large array of solutions and then they put into practice the ones that solve the issue. There are even engineering blogs like Google's own one where they describe how much human interaction and community management that they have to take part in just to be an engineer.

    Engineering is all about empathy, co-operation or collaboration whether it be working on big teams, working with customers or trying to make the Next Big Thing. This all requires empathy. In his own manifesto, he describes why women are not suited for some jobs and says that women are more empathetic and kind of rambles some meaning into saying this explains why women aren't represented in some careers as much as others. This very trait he says women have makes them great engineers. Being good at working with people is a core skill set for engineers and it is one that he tries very hard to downplay.

    Next, again, regardless on what you think about women's skills, this guy just did such a monumentally retarded thing it's staggering this person can even think. This person wrote and made public a document inside Google where he pretty much skirts around actually saying that women are biologically bad at programming and that a lot of women (Honestly I also think he may be low-key saying minorities too) only got their job due to political beliefs. And he tried to legitimatize it by using pseudo-science (he only ever cites himself). This could cause a large amount of people in the company to get very angry and create a very hostile work environment for women and minorities in Google. Did their boss actually get her job because she is very good at it or because she is a woman? She could be amazing at her job but people will simply start asking this question maybe solely because they want her job and don't want to admit they don't deserve it. What about the women who will start wondering how popular this idea is among her co-workers? How are people supposed to work in that environment where you question whether someone is good or got the job because of politics? This is all without mentioning that this kind of discussion is completely inappropriate for a work environment.

    For the manifesto writer himself, this kills his career. Quite simply he cannot work with others at all. He demonstrates that he doesn't think every engineering job is a team effort. What happens if his supervisor has to make him work with a woman who is very good at her job? That team cannot function, he will be questioning why she has her job every step of the way. This person is trying to say that ideological diversity should be emphasized rather than racial, gender diversity but quite simply some ideologies are corrosive to work environments and one that thinks that some people aren't good at certain things due to the way they are born just simply cannot work in a multi-cultural environment like tech. How do you make a black person work with a member of the KKK? Of course that is an extreme but it demonstrates my point.

    Yes, he does say some things that are true. There are biological differences between men and women. Women can give birth, men are stronger physically, women don't get color blind as often, women can carry more fat than men. Which of these makes women bad at software engineering or men particularly good? Correcting for past discrimination is not in itself bad. We know that women are good at being programmers, the career used to be pretty much all women when people thought it was the same as typing. The entire science was founded by women, almost literally. Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper are huge names in the foundation of the science of programming. Where did they go if not discriminated against? It's pretty clear that historically they are pretty good at it. Something changed and it wasn't biology.

    On the topic of diversity, his talk of 'lowering the bar' is extremely offensive. This is a talking point of all of these 'race realists,' 'biotruthers,' and 'skeptics' always harp on about. They make up a situation that they have no idea about. I can guarantee you that the manifesto writer is not involved in the hiring practice and he is assuming that every woman who was hired doesn't have the qualifications. I know quite a few women in large tech companies about the size of Google. Every single one of them deserves their job. They all worked damn hard at getting where they are. There is no 'lowering the bar'. What these diversity programs often do is simply say if you have a man and a woman apply for the same job and they are equal, give the job to the woman. Everyone always cries about 'what if the man was better? Gosh darn diversity programs!' The simple truth is that quite often the difference between candidates is meaningless. Quite a few candidates will tick all the required boxes and the extras aren't important or are completely irrelevant. So, they just prioritize hiring the woman or minority over another white man.

    His complaints against mentoring programs only for certain races? Google has plenty more mentoring programs without any such requirements. Google's Summer of Code mentoring program for example has pretty much no gender/race requirements.

    At this point I've spent too much time on this person. I haven't even touched the issues he has on some topics either. Though, suffice to say, some of his ideas on a large amount of things are just wrong. His stance on morality is quite worrying for an engineer. All engineers should have gone through morality courses and modules to become accredited and I wonder if this is another one of those computer science drops morality courses things. He constantly mixes up social norms for biology, his idea on cultural universal things is very wrong, communism is brought up for some reason and so on so forth. I didn't even really want to touch on the sexism he was showing but I kind of did accidently.

    As an aside, a person who only ever cites themselves and makes some of the claims he does deserves to be lauded as dumb at the very minimum. Every single one of his citations is himself.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
  3. Solfege

    Solfege High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    You killed it. Pretty much mirrors what Yonatan Zunger had to say (now that he can say, after leaving Google). Salient:

    Also, footnote:

     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
  4. disposablehead

    disposablehead Seventh Year

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    It's exhausting how people can't grok the difference between biological effects leading to different preferences from biological effects leading to a difference in ability. Nobody is complaining about the big gendered disparities in representation among pediatricians, psychiatrists, or veterinarians, because it's fine that women get to pursue the careers they find meaningful. And it's also ok that most women aren't interested in computer science in high school, as long as they have the opportunity to be exposed to the field and feel that success is socially acceptable. Since genders have distinct personality characteristics independent of culture, we should in fact expect there to be group differences in the fields women choose to pursue. This says nothing about the <20% of CS grads who are women, and we should expect them to be just as competent as their male peers.

    I think that understanding the googler requires understanding his implicit assumption that if somebody gets through the interview process, they deserve to be there. If, out of a pool of competent peers, certain subgroups are offered additional opportunities of training or mentorship, then other groups are systematically disadvantaged, and the system as a whole is probably missing out on talent in the rest of the labor pool. This doesn't say anything about advantage or disadvantage being deserved or useful for other purposes, but that is a fundamentally political question.

    On the other hand, it's perfectly plausible to me that male-dominated spaces are automatically terrible spaces for women, because more possible creeps plus less possible victims means much worse experienced harassment. I think that a near rabid enforcement of harassment policies is probably the best and only way to go here, but that gets difficult when the line between harassment and politically disagreeable expression get blurred.

    @Dark Belra: where did you view your copy? This link has a couple of journal citations, links to news sources, and wiki definitions. I think he could have done a more robust job if he cited in APA format, but since this was an internal memo rather than an academic paper, I can't give too much blame.
     
  5. Arthellion

    Arthellion Groundskeeper

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    Unfortunately don't have time to read it currently, but my quick question is this:

    Is he saying women do more poorly at STEM because of biological differences? Or is he saying women are less likely to choose STEM because of biological differences? Both?

    If the former I understand more of the outrage. If the latter seems to me he's just examining the nature aspect of career choice.

    Really confused by people who get angry about your gender affecting your decisions. It's biologically been proven that your biological gender influences your decisions.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
  6. Darth_Revan

    Darth_Revan Secret Squirrel Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I read it and it seems to me that fundamentally, he's arguing for meritocracy and rejecting the victim-culture that's been taking over college campuses recently.

    On those counts, I agree with him entirely. But perhaps I'm just projecting his arguments onto a topic I understand better. Dunno.

    For the parts about software engineering I have no opinion on specifically, as I'm not a software engineer. Although it does seem like some of the reactions to this have been wild overreactions.

    Edit: Google apparently fired the author of the offending memo. The stated reason for the dismissal was apparently for 'perpetuating gender stereotypes', which ironically confirms everything the memo said about the marginalization of dissenting viewpoints.

    I sense a wrongful termination lawsuit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
  7. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    It's mostly the latter. People just read that and then immediately jump from there to "Obviously, he's saying all women are inherently inferior at STEM".

    Really, if you actually read the paper (which is actually fairly well cited), he basically says what most everyone already knows: men tend to be more focused on things and women tend to be more focused on people, and that trying to unnaturally force a 50/50 distribution of genders in engineering roles is both artificial and unhelpful.

    Speaking as a software engineer in Sillicon Valley, my reading is largely the same. The guy's fairly accurate, on the whole. I haven't worked at Google specifically yet, so I can't comment on any Google-specific elements he talks about, but a lot of what he said does apply to the wider software community in the area.

    He's also already lawyered up, and there's plenty of grounds for a successful suit, so I'm expecting to see some fireworks soon.
     
  8. EsperJones

    EsperJones Order Member

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    Did he potentially have a point regarding diversity policies? Yup.
    Did he have a bunch of unrelated inflammatory points? Yup.
    Did he choose one of the absolutely worst way possible to present his argument? Yup.
    Did he deserve to get fired? Yup.

    Ultimately, as an engineer he should have thought the results of this through more. It's acceptable to critique company initiatives - for example bringing it up to the program owners privately and asking for data to be shared. If he was fired for *that* I'd be outraged on his behalf.

    I do wonder what the "correct" way of bringing up "Did we lower the bar for diversity candidates" is. Surely it's not to bring in pseudoscience and make a statement without seeing data. But if this document was not making a statement and simply asking the question, woudl it see the same blowback?
     
  9. Darth_Revan

    Darth_Revan Secret Squirrel Prestige DLP Supporter

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  10. someone010101

    someone010101 Groundskeeper

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    Employee complains about echo chamber. Gets fired. The 1984 jokes write themself.

    I only scimmed the essay, but was fairly impressed with it overall. Hell of a lot more moderate then the responses. Had a few good points, like the call against echo chambers and a few points where I doubt if the're true or that just seem irrelevant. But oh well, can't expect full agreement on a large topic. Just judging by form, effort and moderateness, it would have deserved a debate.
     
  11. awinarock

    awinarock Alchemist

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    Isn't California an at will state though? Not to mention they had reasonable grounds to dismiss him. Regardless of the content of the document he produced, if the optics of keeping him is bad for the company, then don't they have the right to fire him?
     
  12. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    I'm not 100% sure on the legal details, so as always, take this with a grain of salt, but my understanding is that there's laws on the books in California that explicitly protect against employees being fired for criticizing the company, which is essentially what this was. My understanding is that there's most certainly grounds for a suit, though whether or not he wins it is probably down to how politicized the judge is.
     
  13. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus Prestige DLP Supporter

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    My grievances with this situation almost have nothing to do with Google the company. They should be able to hire / fire whoever they want.
     
  14. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    I agree. I don't actually have much of an issue with Google firing him. My issue's wholly with the people up in arms in outrage that someone dared question their sacred dogma.

    I just find it deeply ironic that California's nanny-state tendencies and rabidly progressive laws are (probably) going to take effect to protect someone the same people who pushed those laws through dearly want to ruin.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
  15. Darth_Revan

    Darth_Revan Secret Squirrel Prestige DLP Supporter

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    /So they work as intended.
     
  16. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    Exactly. The meltdown of hypocrisy inherent to the whole process shall be glorious to watch, and I'm looking forward to it.
     
  17. Gengar

    Gengar Polymagus Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I've seen countless news articles horrifically misrepresenting what this Manifesto says, so I just want to do a quick tl;dr (feel free to correct me if you think I misread):

    He theorises that, on average, there are biological explanations for why more men than women on average are represented in his field.

    He does not say that his women colleagues are biologically inferior. He starts the Manifesto off by clarifying that. They are very obviously not a part of the average he's referring to.

    Nor is he saying the average itself are inferior, just different.

    Oh, he also posits the recently horrific view that we should hire based on merit.

    Note: California is as you say, but apparently he's suing on the grounds of he was whistle-blowing and his employer was engaged in illegal activities? (I'm no lawyer, just repeating what I heard. Dunno if this is accurate or clever).
     
  18. Immet

    Immet Seventh Year

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    Am I reading a different manifesto than this guy did, or is Yonatan deliberately misrepresenting Damore?

    Yonatan goes on a long rant about how de-emphasising empathy in engineering is a terrible idea, when Damore didn't mention that at all. Damore said solely in the context of discussing diversity issues that empathy isn't always the best method and the current emphasis of increasing empathy at the expense of logic and reasons understandable to people with a different viewpoint isn't necessarily working.

    Seriously, if one is going to criticise the manifesto then criticise what the manifesto actually says, not take phrases out of context and attack a strawman.
     
  19. Solfege

    Solfege High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    While I didn't find Damore's manifesto unobjectionable in its subject matter, the way he delivered it was stupid and harmful, as Yonatan says. There are spaces and classes at Google to discuss this sort of thing, which matters because it changes who your arguments affect, unintentionally or not. If you discuss with a group of five in a space structured for such a discussion, not only does it go by easier, but you risk offending/putting on the defensive a group of people who have volunteered to engage on this topic.

    Putting a public manifesto like he did puts every woman at Google in a position to have to defend their right to be there. Whether he intended to or not. Even if he disclaims that the majority of women at Google aren't within that standard deviation of women subject to female biases (the manifesto is titled Google's Ideological Echo Chamber, with clear implications outside of diversity discussions; hiring practices and support programs, per se, for people undeserving to be at Google --- so no, Yonatan wasn't attacking a strawman), he still ends up questioning the qualifications of a plurality of his coworkers.

    Whether he meant to or not.

    And that, at the end of the day, is why you don't make statistical arguments of this nature without the kind of rigor and formalism intrinsic to academia. People are demonstrably poor statistical thinkers and the moment you make arguments like this in a public fora, in cliffnotes format, accessible to heuristic thinking, you waive the right to claim, "but the nuance...."

    Now I don't necessarily disagree with Damore on many of his points, if incompletely. To me, the line he draws on affective empathy would have been fine if he had placed the countervailing position on cognitive empathy, as the latest research tells us that the age-old paradigm of reason v. emotion is a false dichotomy. But it's easy for us to look at the manifesto in the abstract, when it's already disrupted workforce productivity at Google for some days and forced Sundar Pichai to recall himself from his vacation.

    At that point, you've just done fucked up.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
  20. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    So, uhh, Am I reading a different manifesto than you did, or are you deliberately misrepresenting Damore?

    Because he didn't say any of that. At no point in the entire manifesto did he question anyone's competence, nor did he even say that women are inherently inferior engineers (despite the ludicrous number of people who claim that because they clearly haven't read it or are pushing an agenda). All he said is that, on the macro scale (as in, in large populations of thousands of people), gender has a measurable effect on perspective, methods of thought, and approaches to problem-solving. He goes out of his way to repeatedly state that the statistical group trends do not in any way mean anything for any specific individual and that a specific woman can easily be as good or better at the "masculine" aspects than a specific man, just as the reverse is true.

    Literally all he did was point at the large, macro-scale trends observable in every egalitarian society (and especially the Scandinavian countries where sexism is all but eliminated): that as a group, women generally prefer engaging in emotional and interpersonal work, while men generally prefer chasing status and hard rationality. And that as a result, trying to artificially force a 50/50 distribution of genders in engineering (or anything really) is unhelpful at best, and actively harmful at worst, so Google should shift their recruiting efforts from forcing said 50/50 split and instead hire purely on merit, regardless of all other factors.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017