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Talibanism in Technology?

16 replies on 2 pages. Most recent reply: Feb 6, 2004 7:21 AM by Deepa Kandaswamy

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John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Talibanism in Technology? (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Jan 10, 2004 7:53 PM
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Summary
Are women systematically invisible in the tech industry?
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Deepa Kandaswamy articulates his "seven reasons why women in technology remain invisible..." in Talibanism in Technology.

Do you think there's a problem? If so, is there hope? What do you think we can do to address the problem?


Chris Dailey

Posts: 56
Nickname: mouse
Registered: Dec, 2002

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 11, 2004 12:19 AM
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Do you think there is a problem?

I think there is a problem. It's not just in technical fields, however. It's systemic, it's cultural.

From my personal vantage point, I will enjoy working with someone if they think through issues, are considerate, are competent, and are productive. I won't enjoy working with someone if they're bossy, do poor work, or are annoying. Regardless of gender.

Though I'm not particularly in a position of power to make changes to the situation. But armchair quarterbacking, there need to be more women who are taught technical things when growing up and more women who are trained in the field. The rest of society will drag behind, but will eventually catch up.

Jordan Zimmerman

Posts: 23
Nickname: jordanz
Registered: Jul, 2003

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 12, 2004 3:22 PM
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What about these "invisible" women:

* Carly Fiorina
* Esther Dyson
* Adele Goldberg
* Ellen Hancock
* Meg Whitman
* Carol Bartz
* Kim Polese
...

Merriodoc Brandybuck

Posts: 225
Nickname: brandybuck
Registered: Mar, 2003

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 12, 2004 5:23 PM
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> What about these "invisible" women:
>
> * Carly Fiorina
> * Esther Dyson
> * Adele Goldberg
> * Ellen Hancock
> * Meg Whitman
> * Carol Bartz
> * Kim Polese
> ...

Myth 8 "Women are invisible in technology".

Not to mention the use of Talibanism is just a horrible comparison. It doesn't even come close. I think the use of Talibanism could be in some corollary to Godwin's Law.

John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 13, 2004 12:43 AM
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> Not to mention the use of Talibanism is just a horrible
> comparison. It doesn't even come close. I think the use of
> Talibanism could be in some corollary to Godwin's Law.

I wholeheartedly concur.

John

John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 13, 2004 12:50 AM
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> Do you think there is a problem?

Yes I do. However, I don't think it's a simplistic as the author makes out.

Paul Mitchell-Gears

Posts: 1
Nickname: paulmg
Registered: Jan, 2004

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 13, 2004 6:43 AM
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Deepa Kandaswamy seems to be very taken by the idea that conditioning is everything (ie nurture > nature).

Steven Pinker's book 'The Blank Slate' (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0670031518/qid=1073993602/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/104-0679679-5551919) provides a very balanced view of this whole debate. The message that I took from it is that some things really are determined by birth, despite the political benefits of pretending that everything about a person can be changed, and yet some things really can be changed, despite the received wisdom of society that they are 'there by birth'.

The point being: don't necessarily trust your (societally-informed) intuition about eg whether women make good programmers; read scientific studies (or analyses of those, such as this book) which show evidence one way or the other.

Carol Johnson

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Nickname: cj
Registered: Jan, 2004

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 13, 2004 2:52 PM
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Interesting that the writer assumed the author of the article is a man. Deepa is a woman!

John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 13, 2004 11:51 PM
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Bing! You win the prize as the only person who noticed.

Deepa Kandaswamy

Posts: 2
Nickname: dak1234
Registered: Jan, 2004

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 14, 2004 1:27 AM
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Thanks for making the point of "invisibility " for me by referring to me as a man!

If anyone doubts the invisibility of women in tech now, apparently even our names are assumed to be male!

I can only assume that while you think the article may be good, it couldn't be written by a woman.

Shows the social conditioning :)

Merriodoc Brandybuck

Posts: 225
Nickname: brandybuck
Registered: Mar, 2003

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 14, 2004 9:57 AM
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> Thanks for making the point of "invisibility " for me by
> referring to me as a man!
>
> If anyone doubts the invisibility of women in tech now,
> apparently even our names are assumed to be male!
>
> I can only assume that while you think the article may be
> good, it couldn't be written by a woman.
>
> Shows the social conditioning :)

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't notice the 'his'. I'll also be the first to admit I had assumed you were a woman. Probably because of a sweeping generalization that, since women are invisible, a man wouldn't waste his time writing about an invisible topic unless it was

Given the amount of typos and mistakes in online comment, I tend to make a point of ignoring such things. 'his' vs. 'her' has no useful content for me in a weblog. I've read plenty of stuff with 'her' as the supposedly gender neutral pronoun. Which 'his' and 'he' are used in a gender neutral sense and legally so, mind you. You stumble over it at first. You get used to it. Now, because of it, I ignore the pronouns. In my PC societal BS programmed mind (mostly a failed attempt, really), I just substituted 'the' for 'his'. The post didn't have anything worthwhile (sorry John, really :-) except for the link to your article. Why bother reading it in that level of detail? Or am I the only one that skims for useful content when reading on the internet because of the poor grammar, poor spelling and, a lot of the times, poor content?

If only one person in 8 or so noticing the 'his' in the reference to the article is proof of invisibility in technology, then we must all be complete idiots, as indicated by our horrible grasp of spelling. I can only speak for me and my brother in law when I say that coding has ruined any chance either of us has at becoming spelling bee champions.

So, I guess you can be happy that the attempt at PC brainwashing I recieved at the University of Michigan must have had some effect on one poor white middle class male who is, by all counts, the scourge of the Earth. Gender has been rendered irrelevant. Damn, and I remember liking feminimity, too. Now when I get home tonight, I'll have to go and make sure that I did, in fact, marry a woman.

<sigh>

John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 15, 2004 1:35 AM
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Sigh, you missed the whole point... The male pronoun was used on purpose precisely to get at the issue.

John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 15, 2004 1:48 AM
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[...]
> Given the amount of typos and mistakes in online comment,
> I tend to make a point of ignoring such things. 'his' vs.
> 'her' has no useful content for me in a weblog. I've read
> plenty of stuff with 'her' as the supposedly gender
> neutral pronoun. Which 'his' and 'he' are used in a gender
> neutral sense and legally so, mind you. You stumble over
> it at first. You get used to it. Now, because of it, I
> ignore the pronouns. In my PC societal BS programmed mind
> (mostly a failed attempt, really), I just substituted
> 'the' for 'his'. The post didn't have anything worthwhile
> (sorry John, really :-) except for the link to your
> article. Why bother reading it in that level of detail? Or
> am I the only one that skims for useful content when
> reading on the internet because of the poor grammar, poor
> spelling and, a lot of the times, poor content?

No worries, no offense taken at this end.

IMVHO, your rationalization is a wonderful example of exactly the same underlying issue.

[...]
> feminimity, too. Now when I get home tonight, I'll have to
> go and make sure that I did, in fact, marry a woman.

LOL! Thanks!

Merriodoc Brandybuck

Posts: 225
Nickname: brandybuck
Registered: Mar, 2003

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 15, 2004 11:02 AM
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I think the bigger issue, in most cases, is that in some cases gender very much matters and in others it is supposed to be ignored. To take the pregnancy example cited in the article.

"Working hours required and the social set up for the jobs in the technical field demand quite different commitments. This directly affects the socially defined role of a woman as a nurturer. Therefore most women feel there is a lack of balance in their lives and this leads to guilt. In Californian Law, pregnancy itself is considered a disability with a note from your doctor."

Many people I know who have been pregnant have been too sick to work for fairly long periods. So they take the time off they need. That's fine. Not having ever personally endured a pregnancy, I can't say what's what. But then on the other hand they are supposed to get the same consideration in their employment as the people who plug away at their jobs day in and day out? That strikes me as horribly unfair. My wifes morning sickness for both our kids, if she was working, would not have let her work. That law would have helped her. It is painted in a poor light in this article.

And I do believe, whether you want to admit it or not, that women and men are wired differently. This is a generalization. As such it applies in the general case, not every case. It isn't like stereotypes, societal roles and generalizations form in a vacuum.

This is not to say that people shouldn't be judged by their merits and allowed to pursue the course they determine is best for them. I can also say that I have been lucky enough to not have been in work environments like those described in the article, so perhaps I don't have the same perspective as the author.

I think the article, like most of what I've seen and read on this issue, tries to have it both ways in a lot of cases. You can't. Things just don't work that way. Of course, I could be guilty of what I'm about to say below and reading things into the article that aren't there ;-)

And I don't see how my missing a pronoun proves your point. One one hand you say that gender shouldn't matter. If that's the case, then the pronoun shouldn't matter. If it shouldn't matter, then it should be invisible. Women should be invisible. Men should be invisible. People and their accomplishments should be the only thing that is visible. I think my 'rationalization' is merely a symptom of what I describe and that too much is being read into it. It's like the people that believe the Lord of the Rings was heavily influence by the events of WWII because it was released afterwords. They are finding things that aren't there. The story was written well before Hitler's rise to power. Sauron is not Hitler.

If you look hard enough, you tend to find what you're looking for, whether it is there or not.

At least, that is my VHO.

Paul Rivers

Posts: 24
Nickname: paulrivers
Registered: May, 2003

Re: Talibanism in Technology? Posted: Jan 18, 2004 4:30 AM
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I've always said that women aren't as good as men at programming. And I've found in college that this is true. Because women aren't willing the spend the hours and hours it takes to get good at these time consuming technical subjects. What I mean is, women aren't stupid enough to waste years of their lives sitting in front of a computer, alone, in a socially and emotionally void environment. I see this a lot at school - guys will work on a program of their own, alone, for a long time, whereas girls think "Wait, why would I spend so many hours on code no one will ever find useful anyways?". The stupid girls _are_ to emotional to do technical things. The smart girls are too smart to beat themselves against the unfeeling, uncaring machine. There's also another occupation that you don't see many girls doing - serial killing.

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