Skepchick Quickies 4.17

Skepchick Quickies 4.17
  • No one called me a slut – A woman writes about her experience of having an abortion in 1978 and shows just how much we've backslid in 34 years.
  • Dear daughter – "So. The world hates you. You are considered the worst thing to be compared to. Throw like a girl. Talk like a girl. Cry like a girl. God forbid we ever be girls."
  • My puffy face moment: Viva la sports bra! – I won't spoil the reveal, but I love her eloquence in a time of stress.
  • Breaking the digital glass ceiling as a young black woman in tech – "I didn’t understand that technology jobs entailed working and collaborating with people, shaping ideas and engaging in creative problem solving, often outside traditional office walls. I didn’t understand this because I was surrounded by classmates, mostly first generation engineers, who had never been exposed to accomplished women in the field."
  • Image from ThinkGeek tshirt.

Avatar of Amanda
Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

29 Comments

  1. Avatar of pieceofme

    love the "dear daughter" letter. will be read home.

  2. Avatar of dr. dr. professor

    Yeah that's right, women are always told how much they're screwing things up or how wretched they are.
     
    We need to teach our daughters to put boots up the asses of assclowns who say this kind of crap.

  3. Avatar of mrmisconception

    That was a big pile of misogynist blech!

    Makes me want to go home and hug my daughter and apologize for being a man.

    Instead I’ll give her a hug and stear her away from from crap like Twilight.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

      Well I don't want to apologize for being a male (it is what it is), but I want to tell my daughters (should I have them) that they don't have to apologize for being a woman.
       
      I feel like it's actually tough to help a daughter through that.  Girls run into so much discrimination and societal conditioning so early that I feel that I'd be at a loss of words to explain it all and help her through that.  Does anyone with girls have any say on how to help their girls be strong against discrimination?

  4. Avatar of davew

    With regards to "breaking the digal glass ceiling" I call bullshit. Bullshit of the tallest and stinkiest order.

    They wanted to know about balance, what’s it like working in a mostly male world and about being a minority in a technology workplace.

    I've worked in technology for 30 years now, in states as diverse as Alabama, Colorado, and California and if there is one thing that is screamingly true is everyone is a minority. I give in that is still mostly men, but it is difficult to find two people from the same country and if you can that country is as likely to be China or India as it is America. In my current group of 10 enginneers we have one white guy (me), a Canadian, three Vietnamese, one Indian, two Chineese, and two I don't know, but neither is a native English speaker.

    "Oh, but what about promotions?!"

    I've never been promoted nor have any engineer I have worked with. I have title that changes from time to time (which I can't honestly recall what it is at the moment) and my sallary goes up, but the idea of rank went out with smoking in the office. There are promotions available in the management world, but I prefer to know as little about management as possible as do most engineers.

    Engineering is the closest thing I have ever seen to a pure meritocracy and to go around talking about what it is like to be a minority in the engineering world is the most disingenuous bullshit I have heard this year. If you want to talk to a minority engineer talk to any enginner. There is no majority. Not in this country anyway.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

      Well I suppose you wouldn't know white man :). 
       
      I'm an Indian/east-asian/white mix born and raised in the US and I've been in software engineering for a while now.  I run my own company currently, but when I was working for other people, I'd deal with the following things:
      1. People thinking I was promoted because of my race, or attributing my mistakes to my race (I'd hear them talking about this when they thought they were out of earshot)
      2. People thinking than when I was running a project, I was "managing people like they were a bunch of Indians"
      3. People making stupid race comments "Curry smells, how can you eat that stuff?" (*Facepalm*), "You speak arabic with your parents right?" (*No, I speak English), "Hey can you please talk to this Indian vendor, I can't understand them"(*Neither can I asshole), etc.
       
      Granted, it wasn't only white people I had to deal with this from, I had to deal with this from many races (white, black, asians, even other Indians) – but the point is, being non-white people make immediate assumptions about you and it shows in subtle, yet extremely annoying ways.  I imagine it would 150% worse if I was a woman.
       
      I don't fully disagree Dave about things being mostly a meritocracy, but god damn there are a lot of discriminatory undertones you don't notice when you're the majority Dave.  That's why these conversations need to happen.. because people DO NOT NOTICE :).

      • Avatar of davew

        I don't fully disagree Dave about things being mostly a meritocracy, but god damn there are a lot of discriminatory undertones you don't notice when you're the majority Dave.  That's why these conversations need to happen.. because people DO NOT NOTICE

        I liked this response. I never meant to imply that racism, sexism, and all other forms of discrimination and jackassery were extinct They are most certainly not. I just don't think that there is any typical "minority" experience now. Back in the days if you were a black person in America you'd almost certainly work for a while guy and talking about experiences common to black people was useful. Right now I would have no idea what the typical engineering experience is. In my vast experience it not only varies from company to company, but from group to group. The only thing you can nearly be certain of is no matter how you label yourself chances are you will be a minority of people with that label and this includes "white male".

        To put a finer point on this I've worked for two different people from India. I didn't see anything in common with the way they treated me. I could not give any advice to anyone else about these experiences that have anything to do with race or culture. Actually in one group almost all the other engineers were from India too and this was in Alabama of all places. An outside observer might have concluded there was discrimination in the hiring process. I wouldn't agree for the simple reason that he did hire me and I was part of all the other hiring decisions and each time I believe we hired the best available candidate from the pool. Well, except for one case, but the other guy was from India too so it doesn't count.

        • Avatar of Amanda

          But don't you see the issue with you, as a not-minority, reading a minority person's account of what they say is typical and calling it bullshit?

          • Avatar of marilove

            But but but!  He's a white man!  He's a minority, don't you see?!

            Jesus. While I imagine there are some good points hidden in Dave's comment, I just can't get passed that.  Come on.  Seriously.  NO.

          • Avatar of davew

            But don't you see the issue with you, as a not-minority, reading a minority person's account of what they say is typical and calling it bullshit?

            In order for someone to be a meaningful minority there has to be a majority. My claim is that there is no majority specifically within the field of engineering. I certainly haven't encountered one. If you have any data or experience to contradict this I'm very willing to entertain it.In my current position my manager is Vietnamese, his manager is Canadian (first generation from China), his manager is a woman from Massachusetts, her manager is a woman from California, and her boss is from Scotland. Who exactly represents the majority in this tree? Who would get perks based on their gender, race, or culture?

            Here is the other interesting thing about the current working world. I've never met most of the people I work with. I've shaken hands with my manager once. If the color of my skin matters at all it must be a very subtle effect indeed to carry over email and the telephone.

        • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

          Gah, Dave, it's something you can't see because you've never experienced it.
           
          It's diverse sure, but it DOES exist.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception

            Or to put it another way Dave, would you still feel there was no minority if you were in a similar situation but working in a foreign country making you an actual minority?

          • Avatar of davew

            Or to put it another way Dave, would you still feel there was no minority if you were in a similar situation but working in a foreign country making you an actual minority?

            I was only talking about the US and more specifically only my experience.My experience may not be general as I tend to stick to cutting-edge hardware companies that might have a different dynamic than, for example, a database shop in Minnesota. I half expected someone to pop up with some statistics. I went looking for them and couldn't find anything relevant.

    • Avatar of Skulleigh

      Well, I have worked in technology for 16 years, split between 2 slash 3-ish major tech companies (a major internet provider whose name you would know, a software company whose name you would definitely know, and a small company who got acquired by a major cell phone maker), and I have a different experience than you. My work has been in technical support, training, and software development (I'm currently a QA engineer).
      I got into tech in community college, and while my profs were encouragingly awesome, once I got into the professional world, I have experienced sexism many times.
      - I've been accused of sleeping my way into a job.
      - I've had male students ignore instruction from me but when given the exact same instruction (verbatim!) from a male they listened and learned.
      - I reported a bug that got rejected, and when I pursued it because it was a valid problem, the manager of that product's group told my husband (who worked at the same company in a 3rd unrelated group) that he needed to "control your wife."
      - That same manager barged into the team I was on's weekly meeting to present me with a bottle of wine (which I don't like) to say "sorry" when he finally accepted that I had submitted a valid bug. I had not told the rest of the team about it. Instead of respectfully apologizing to me personally, he made an insane, insincere dramatic production of it.
      - I've been involved in hiring interviews in which women and people with non-US accents (mostly African, Carribean, or Asian) weren't hired thought qualified because they would not "fit the culture" of the company, while lesser qualified white or hispanic applicants were hired.
      - Male IT techs have repeatedly assumed lesser knowledge of my hardware skills than they do of my coworkers in the same group, despite demonstrating that knowledge.
      These are just some of the events that have happened to me. A lot of others have been so minor that I didn't bother to commit details to long term memory, because it's just not worth it to let those people hang out in my head. Or they are just so stupidly commonplace that it's background noise at this point.
      Some of the above, I don't think these men are necessarily consciously thinking "women suck!" it's just what they are marinated in (except maybe Mr "Control Your Wife.")  And frankly, that sucks.
      Not all of those guyes were white men either. Because yes, tech is pretty diverse, and that's nice. But just because a man is in a minority doesn't mean he's automatically not sexist himself.
      Yes, I've been able to advance, but it's been while surrounded by all of the above and more… plus the shit I got when working with the customers.
      So yeah, meritocracy. Pure? No. Definitley not.
       
       

      • Avatar of Skulleigh

        Gah. There were line breaks there before I posted, I swear. Sorry.

        • Avatar of kagerato

          You have to use a double line break/return in the editor to create a paragraph.
           
          It makes no sense at all, I know.  What you see is NOT what you get in this case.

      • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

        Several things you've said resonated with me
        //But just because a man is in a minority doesn't mean he's automatically not sexist himself.//
        YES, I am non-white, and I kinda resent people saying that only white guys can be sexist, I think it belittles the problem of sexism in minority communities.  For example you should see how sexist Indian communities are and the type of things that are expected from women in it.  It also leads to the stereotype that you don't have to worry about sexism from non-white guys.
         
        Positive stereotypes are still stereotypes.  Just because you say "Asians are good at math" or "black guys all have huge penises" doesn't make it not racist.
         
        //I've had male students ignore instruction from me but when given the exact same instruction (verbatim!) from a male they listened and learned.//
        I've seen this happen to my female co-workers quite a bit.  It happened to me sometimes (mainly in people invoking my race when I was checking mistakes, saying things like "Indian bastard"), but way less than it happened to the female developers.  I at least had the benefit of appearing like a "hard-ass boss" instead of a "controlling bitch".
         
        Women have a very very hard time in STEM fields, and frankly it's up to us to crush it the workplace.  I run my own company now, and I sometimes catch my own workers being sexist and I have to constantly stay on top of people to cut the crap (including firing one guy).
         
        As you said, being a woman leads to negative assumptions about competence and that carries at multiple levels.  Dave, we need to STOMP THIS OUT.

        • Avatar of davew

          As you said, being a woman leads to negative assumptions about competence and that carries at multiple levels.  Dave, we need to STOMP THIS OUT.

          To be clear I was only responding to the minority part of "female minority" not the female part. As I said right off the bat most of my work places have been predominately male.  I haven't seen gender discrimination at engineering companies, but it could easily exist without me being aware of it.

          • Avatar of Skulleigh

            If I am understanding correctly, you're saying tech isn't racist, but it might be sexist?
            My interpretation of the article is that she was mostly referring to gender issues, since she was working with an organization for girls, but that might be my own bias.
            But I have also definitely seen racism in tech, though I haven't noticed it as much since it doesn't affect me like sexism does. It's not in my experience – it's my bias. As I mentioned, I have seen minorities – usually ones who are less "Americanized" – passed over, and at the height of my experiences with outsourcing to India, there were definitely some tones of racism. 
             

          • Avatar of marilove

            " I haven't seen gender discrimination at engineering companies, but it could easily exist without me being aware of it.":

            YOU THINK?

      • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

        Thank you for sharing your perspective Skulleigh… it's very telling..

        • Avatar of Skulleigh

          Thank you very much!

        • Avatar of davew

          But I have also definitely seen racism in tech, though I haven't noticed it as much since it doesn't affect me like sexism does. It's not in my experience – it's my bias. As I mentioned, I have seen minorities – usually ones who are less "Americanized" – passed over, and at the height of my experiences with outsourcing to India, there were definitely some tones of racism.

          I wouldn't claim that racism doesn't exist in engineering. I only claimed that minorities don't exist in the fact that everyone is a minority. Racism is alive and well, but it is not the institutionalized white-versus-black racism that was so popular a wihle back. Now it's much more random and everyone can experiece it. Yes, even white males. (Our company does a lot of work overseas and there are a couple of companies in a certain countriy that nobody voluneteers to visit.) If someone is reacting badly to you for no good reason I don't think it is useful to try to pin down why they are being unfair. It's certainly not useful if you guess wrong.

          • Avatar of Skulleigh

            I am confused by your posts, honestly. I am "hearing" defensiveness that your "world" is being accused of racism. You say everyone is a minority, so there aren't any minorities in tech. So when those non-white folks act racist, it's not racism racism… It's just…. What? 
             
            Consider that those people live in a larger world where they absorb the majority ideas about other people, and they bring them to work with them. 
             
            And the article didn't say "omg, tech is so racist!" it's a woman saying she would like to mentor people to get into a field they might not otherwise consider because they don't know anyone in their group who can tell them about it. What's so "bullshit of the tallest and stinkiest order" about what she wrote? Is it the "glass ceiling" headline that is really causing you to react that way? There is a ceiling. They top folks at the companies I have been at are white males, even when the guys on the phones and doing the everyday coding are diverse enough for you to say that tech is so egalitarian and diverse. 
            (I know there are typos hiding in there, but screw it. I am running out of lunch hour.)

          • Avatar of davew

            I am confused by your posts, honestly. I am "hearing" defensiveness that your "world" is being accused of racism. You say everyone is a minority, so there aren't any minorities in tech. So when those non-white folks act racist, it's not racism racism… It's just…. What?

            Anybody can treat anybody else in a racist manner. As long as stupidity exists there will be racsim. What is absent now in technology is an instutionalized racism. You can't pull a young person aside and give them any meaningful advice about how their race will influence their job because the work place is so thoroughly integrated that everyone's work experience will be different. The bullshit is the article focussing on race when racism is not a hurdle most people will have to deal with in technology.

            They top folks at the companies I have been at are white males, even when the guys on the phones and doing the everyday coding are diverse enough for you to say that tech is so egalitarian and diverse.
             

            If you read what I wrote I specifically said I was talking about engineering jobs (my experience) and specifically excluded management jobs. I have no idea what sort of hurdles someone will face if they try to climb the ranks of manaagement. The whole notion of wanting to do that is completely alien to me.

  5. Avatar of timmyson

    I think it's great that woman confronted the heckler, but I think the solidarity she sees in the applauding girls is probably projected.  It seems much more likely to me that the girls saw someone being torn a new one and enjoyed the spectacle.  Maybe I'm wrong, and even if I am not, maybe those girls will think back on this event if and when they encounter that sort of misogyny.
    Still, good on her for telling the asshole off.

    • Avatar of marilove

       
      Women.  Not girls.  <i>Women.</i>
       
      Anyway.  I doubt your interpretation is correct.  If the *women* were able to hear everything that went down, you better believe they were applauding for the very reasons the OP suspects.  Most women have experienced what the OP experienced.  I have.
      It is quite telling, however, that instead of believing her interpretation, you instead think, “Nah.  Those women were just being catty bitches!”  Don’t you see that as a problem?

  6. Avatar of Grand Lunar

    The "Dear Daughter" article is the best I've ever seen.
    Perhaps it ought to be read to Congress. Or better yet,  to the American public as a whole.
     

  7. Avatar of freemage

    My best friends' daughters are totally getting those Self-Rescuing Princess t-shirts in the near future.

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