current affairs, technology, women

I Was One of the Few Women in Computer Science.

women in computer science

Whose shoes shall I wear to mull over James Damore’s memo? By now you would know who is James Damore? An ex-Google employee who got fired as he tried to explain why there are so few women in Computer Science.

Should I be — a class topper who outperformed all boy students in mathematics and physics throughout school, the only female software engineer in a batch of sixty-nine boys, a writer who wants to bring balance into the world, a data driven individual, a laid off former employee of a well-known finance giant, a feminist in denial face, a woman who wants to be called intelligent rather than beautiful, an observer who has seen passionate women around her outperform men specifically in computer science and engineering or someone who acknowledges and accepts the differences between men and women?

None of the above.

I am going to be someone who has not been angered by James Damore’s memo and just wants to lay out the facts and opinion in open. Neither am I going to empathize with anybody as he has correctly said; empathy takes away absolute rationalism.

I would be lying if I say his memo did not alarm me. But since then, I have read hundreds of articles, research papers, open letters, and comments that envelope this controversy. I am grateful to him for opening up this discussion; he was not the only one who had these thoughts simmering in the back of his mind.

During school and engineering coaching (preparation to get into engineering colleges), teachers, girls, and boys wondered how I could outperform boys in the male dominated subjects, such as mathematics and physics. I did not understand what was wrong with a girl being better at STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

The whole coaching center knew me because I was the girl who ranked first.

The social stereotypes concreted the beliefs of both, boys and girls, that it was okay for the girls to be bad at STEM and the boys had to be better. The bias, later on in the university, helped me when I decided that I did not like those subjects anymore. I instead wanted to write, travel, communicate, and cook.

I am the woman who could have made it to the top of the software engineering and leadership ladder but chose not to. The one whom these software giants are trying to lure. The one who has further skewed the diversity ratio. And as per James Damore, the reasons could be biological.

Do biological differences between men and women explain the lower number of women in computer science and engineering?

All the biological studies, that he has referred to, are incomplete and are small scale tests conducted on a scant sample population. Even the scientists involved have said that the hypothesis have not been proved yet and more research should be done.

He said in the memo that many of the biological differences are small but then goes onto writing a ten-page analysis on the foundation of these tenuous theories.

People rather than things are more important to women hypothesis is a disputed and criticized research.The theory focused on people with high autism. If highly male characteristics are being associated with autism, then I wonder how all these men would become great leaders. Nothing seems to match up.

So, his point, about why women relatively prefer jobs in social areas: close to people and men like coding: close to things, falls out. The research is as debated as the survival on Mars. I do have faith in Elon Musk but I would not vouch for it right now.

Comparison of the five behavioral traits of men vs women was conducted by 100 scientists from 56 nations while the number of participants was a mere 18,000 out of the total world population of 7.5 billion. This theory about the higher drive for status in men was tested on forty males.

The graph on agreeableness is almost overlapping which nullifies his claims about women having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading.

This research says that the one facet of Neuroticism in which women do not always exhibit higher scores than men is anger — then why did he not talk about this? Shouldn’t that be a factor enough for diversity training, so that we hire more women in computer science to make the workplace more peaceful?

An unbiased coin has an output of fifty-fifty — heads and tails — when it is tossed enough number of times. If you toss it two times, no one can guarantee you a head and a tail. He has completely ignored this sample space problem. He did not refer to the biological theories which suggest the opposite of what he has suggested. As Faruk Ateş says in this medium article, he has pick pocketed to prove his point.

Stefan Molyneux, in his interview with James Damore, said that no scientist has declined James Damore’s claims. I ask him — what will the scientists say? They know their research is not conclusive. They have not proven any hypothesis. Isn’t it the responsibility of the reader to not base other theories on these untested ones?

These researches have to be taken with a pinch of salt. And so should be the memo of James Damore. I do not understand why people got so angry. But yes, he had a bigger responsibility when he shared such an opinionated delicate piece of writing. But maybe he expected a bare minimum tolerance from the educated adult world. Google CEO Pichai sounded right when he said, ”To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK”.

Goldiebox’s CEO said in her open letter to James Damore “that what he did wrong was to propagate gender stereotypes that are overblown”. She asked him to apologize. She said that she conducted many interviews to understand the biological factors but she never presented any data. All she mentioned was Adam Grant’s points, making her job easy. Her letter could have been so much more but it was just a disappointing emotional eruption.

Who is to blame here? James Damore or the angry crowd? I think both sides had a responsibility and both sides failed badly.

I wish we had more conclusive reliable scientific theories but in the absence of those, we have to solve the problem of few women in computer science, differently, if at all. Faruk Ateş has dusted off some history in his medium article.

The article says, “Women were the first software engineers until men actively pushed them out”.

It mentions that in the late 1960’s, by the time women had taken the code in their own fingers, men realized that programming was really hard, and thus, prestigious. Some men didn’t want women enjoying all the benefits of programming.

The ad campaigns, smear marketing, gender stereotypes, workplace sexism, hostility and unfair treatment, society-wide labor practice changes — slowly threw out the women. The society stereotyped computing, programming and video games as technical niches — only meant for boys and men — therefore, decreasing the number of women in computer science and coding.

We can explain the lack of women, just by this.

In this Bloomberg article, Megan McArdle says, “Thinking back to those women I knew in IT, I can’t imagine any of them would have spent a weekend building a fiber-channel network in her basement.” Then how come Rear Admiral Grace Hopper created one of the world’s first compilers (in her spare time) in 1952.

Megan further says that women have less affinity for mechanical things than men, even as extremely young children. This could lead to an environment in which women who could be great engineers decide they’d rather do something else. Then how does she explain that in 2005, women earned 55% of the computer science bachelor degrees in India? Does biology follow borders?

Though, I know for a fact that in India children study major fields such as computer science, medicine, engineering to get stable jobs. Passions come later. Could you even factor in all these options and priorities and choices that people have to make which would get reflected in the careers they pursue? I bet it does not seem so simple now.

In university, I could see boys pursuing their passions outside classes and over weekends. Some of the passions such as building robots had skewed diversity. The absolute number of men vs women were also skewed. Maybe, we can conclude that women want a more fulfilling life as compared to men. But there were women who immersed in their studies (computer science, coding included) and passions even on weekends. Many of them went to the US to pursue MS and PhDs in Computer Science and are now pioneers in their fields as some of my male friends.

All I am trying to say is everyone is different and even though, I know many women who fall into the criteria that James Damore is trying to fit them into, I also know many who don’t. I have met many women who are intimidated by mathematics. But I have also met many men who are no different.

Adam Grant, the renown author, and psychologist says that the gender differences have been vastly exaggerated. He says that across 128 domains of the mind and behavior, “78% of gender differences are small or close to zero.” And in leadership, which Damore has said would be more stressful for women, they are rated as more competent.

Nearly 4,000 studies in the U.S have proven that boys aren’t better at math than girls. If they are not better than it means they are not more interested, given the mind differences are close to zero. Cultural biases heavily influence math abilities. In India, it is expected that the girls would not like mathematics. Many people have asked me over the years that why did I like it and how could I possibly understand it. Girls were under the impression that mathematics was not their cup of tea. It was also accepted when they did not perform well and were not encouraged to do so.

The data on occupational interests reveal that men and women are equally interested in working with data.

So why are there so many more male than female engineers?

Because women have systematically been discouraged from working with computers historically.

His two statements pushed me to the edge as well. He highlighted that women on average are more cooperative as a negative factor but I think it is a great team player quality. Secondly, he mentioned compromising on hiring standards which he linked to an inaccessible internal Google discussion. He sarcastically compared hiring discrimination to mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.

We all would like to know if Google compromised its hiring standards to adhere to diversity. Can Google afford to do that? If that is true, female colleagues of James Damore must have been under performers. Were they?

Do companies hire women with lesser capabilities than a competing man for the same position? Having worked in technology and finance giants, clearing rounds of excruciating interviews and interviewing both male and female candidates, when no manager or director told me to go soft on the women, it does not look like that to me.

Do we need diversity?

Gender diversity and financial performance are positively correlated. Woman make half of the customer base: not including their ideas at the production stages could translate into lower sales. By ignoring women you are rejecting half of your potential workforce and losing out on talent.

Diversity programs and training have been helpful.

I was the only women in a team of thirty men. Yes, I heard sexist and chauvinist comments that I did not deserve. Did I shout? No. Did the comments upset me and make it more difficult for me to work with such colleagues? Yes. So it was nice that the company was helping me with ways to deal with sexism.

One of these trainings invoked James Damore to write the memo. I would attribute his frustration to the fact that nobody paid attention to his issues while Google went on empowering women.

Let us focus on some of his grievances that he has voiced out in the memo.

He said that men needs to be freed from the male gender role — I agree.

I am in India so I would not say that females have been freed. But male have not been freed either. I know many men whose family, friends and society expect them to be strong. They cannot display their emotions or cry. They want to change but they cannot. I also do not understand why I go through the excruciating pain of waxing. The society has nurtured these so called socially acceptable qualities in all of us.

He said that a man is considered a misogynist and a whiner when he complains about a gender issue affecting men. I hear you, James. Society should free men from the long held strong role of being hard and tough.

He also advocated the society to treat people as individuals — I agree. But is he not doing the same? By framing women into these biological norms while completely ignoring individualism?

We have over exaggerated the seriousness of his memo.

He did not say that the people present in the offices are not appropriate for the job. He confirmed that by saying, “Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual.”

James Damore was trying to provide the reasons for the missing percentages. So, first of all, no woman in computer science, working her ass off, should take offense. James Damore does not have the right to tell if you are a good fit in your office or not. It is you and your manager and your colleagues.

But practicality is not our strongest trait when someone points a finger at us. I think Google CEO Sundar Pichai has correctly summed up the problem; he said James Damore has crossed the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in the workplace.

The psychological safety that he talks so much about — that the team members feel accepted and respected — would his women teammates be assured now?

The more I research and read, the more I understand that the reasons for gender diversity imbalance are far from being biological. Though, I was doubtful before.

The question is — do we really need to find these reasons or just try to bring an equality in the workforce?

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39 Comments

  • Reply

    Shobana Santhanagopalan

    August 15, 2017

    Good read girl!

    Perhaps the biggest inherent problem with all kinds of diversity programs are the levels at which they are introduced.

    Be it under graduation reservation, a forced hiring percentage in favour of minorities in companies, it is a little a late and almost all the parties involved will find it difficult to accept this.

    Start inclusion at a primary school. Force schools to have better diversity, I was in a metro and my class has a 50-50 gender ratio till I was 14, then suddenly out of nowhere it dropped to only 30% girls. I was taken aback till about 2 weeks when everyone kept telling me that this is how it is. Girls are not good at science so they are under represented in your class. The commerce class had 60% girls. And I knew 8 of them who scored better than me in science before that and were put there by their parents.

    This ratio only got worse and worse every year since and I every year I knew smarter women who were dropped out of the system.

    Maybe this is just India or just my time, but inclusion should start young and then everyone involved might just become less biased and more welcoming of the other gender.

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 15, 2017

      Thanks Shobhana. Yes, inclusion should start even before the child is born. And inclusion does not only mean percentages. It means inclusion in mindsets. No girl or boy should think that they can’t do something because of their gender.

  • Reply

    Sarath Chandra

    August 16, 2017

    The thoughts of James Damore as well as other thoughts portrayed in your article are fine examples of modern day stereotypes – social, racial, gender based on their individual worldview, but aren’t derogatively sexist.
    Stereotyping isn’t a modern-day phenomenon, it existed even in pre-historic age, the most popular ones tagged men as hunters and women as gatherers. This was a cognitive categorization of individuals of those times based on their muscular strength and stamina. This doesn’t mean all women enjoyed gathering. There were some women who were better hunters with greater stamina than their male peers – the outliers. These women struggled hard to break the social barriers, learned hunting, excelled in it and competed against the best of the opposite gender to set new benchmarks.
    Similarly, you have been an outlier who didn’t do what the society expected you to do, but have made mindful decisions for yourself – in academics, professional and personal life – and excelled in all fronts. So, did Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Sheryl Sandberg COO – Facebook, Susan Wojcicki CEO – YouTube, Meg Whitman CEO – HP and their likes.
    James Damore has articulated his worldview based on his experiences at Google and the tech industry at large. While I’m clueless on the statistics mentioned in his memo, I certainly do not subscribe to his thoughts on biological differences between both genders. Both men and women in my opinion are equally equipped and capable of making career choices and excelling in those.
    Referring to Google’s diversity policies, James Damore states that he is a strong believer in gender and racial diversity but doesn’t endorse the “special advantages/ reservations” given to the diverse candidates. Such policies, even if designed in good faith result in tensions.
    I’m not aware of these policies at Google but as an Indian, I have come across related reservations in education, employment and elected bodies – based on the stereotypes of gender, caste and religion – that I do not endorse.
    As another example, in the world of VC’s it is often stereotyped that investing into Founders with a premier institution’s degree is a safer bet as opposed to investing into a Founder who isn’t from a similar pedigree – academic stereotyping. The latter struggles more despite a great business plan to source funds for building their organization.
    My takeaway from this thread of initiated by James Damore is to advocate & promote individualism, mutual respect and meritocracy – anyone with the required skills, know-how and imagination may aspire and compete to reach the zenith in their chosen field irrespective of their gender, caste, religion or academic background.

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 16, 2017

      Thank for your generous comments Sarath. I just try to do what I like. My takeaway from this thread of initiated by James Damore is to advocate & promote individualism, mutual respect and meritocracy – anyone with the required skills, know-how and imagination may aspire and compete to reach the zenith in their chosen field irrespective of their gender, caste, religion or academic background – That is my take away from your comment. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Reply

    AnnJo

    August 16, 2017

    I remember being the only girl in my high school’s math analysis class back in 1966, and having my teacher and classmates look at me as if I had a second head growing out of my ear. It was seriously demoralizing and even though I scored in the 99.9 percentile in math on my SAT and loved math, I never pursued it further. Ah, well, 40 years of practicing law wasn’t a total waste of time as a substitute.

    Having said that, though, I found the Damore memo to be a completely reasonable and sensible effort to open up the conversation about workforce disparities which is by now almost cult-like in its rigidity.

    There clearly are biological differences between men and women, including some that may affect brain development. These differences may be relatively small, and still have sizable effects on men’s and women’s median and standard deviation in career choices and interests, especially in careers that select from people who are already outliers on the standard deviation curve. On the other hand, cultural, educational, and other differences may also or instead explain a great deal of those differences. We can do something about the latter, and we should and we are, but to imagine that the only acceptable evidence that we have done enough is if the male/female distribution is exactly 50/50 in every single field is, to put it simply, nuts, unless we want a level of authoritarianism that simply tells each person what job he or she is to have regardless of interest.

    Besides, even if it were true that men ON AVERAGE may have greater interest in STEM fields, as James Damore himself pointed out that has no bearing on whether any particular man or woman is more interested in or better suited to a STEM career. It does not “perpetuate a stereotype” because it does the exact opposite, it denies the applicability and utility of stereotypes.

    The cult doesn’t allow such heretical ideas, apparently.

    But while we are working on correcting the male/female balance in STEM, why are we ignoring the even greater disparity in male/female prison ratio (something like 97/3), or male/female workplace death rates (93/7), or male/female heavy construction job rates?

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 17, 2017

      I remember being the only girl in my high school’s math analysis class back in 1966 – wow 🙂
      I am sure you did great at law too.
      Thank you for reading and your thoughtful comment. I agree with you on certain points.

      These differences may be relatively small, and still have sizable effects on men’s and women’s median and standard deviation in career choices and interests, especially in careers that select from people who are already outliers on the standard deviation curve. – An intelligent thought.
      Yes, no one should force someone into some particular job, which I think neither the memo is doing nor the diversity initiatives.
      But while we are working on correcting the male/female balance in STEM, why are we ignoring the even greater disparity in male/female prison ratio (something like 97/3), or male/female workplace death rates (93/7), or male/female heavy construction job rates? – I think in these areas also we need to study the reasons of disparity. But overall I would like to decrease the number of crimes and hence the number of people in prisons without worrying about the gender ratio :). Same goes with death rate. But these are interesting statistics.

      Regarding heavy construction jobs I think women think it is easier for them to do something else. Given the physical strength of men is more than women (in general). This visible factor causes this disparity. In the hour of need, I think we all grab whatever job we can.

      Thank you again Annjo for your comment and time. Stay connected 🙂

  • Reply

    Charles L Carter

    August 17, 2017

    Priyanka Gupta, thank you for inviting my comment after a comment I posted on The Conversation. I thought Damore’s comments worthy of consideration even though at no point did I feel certain about his biologic claims. His concern about authoritarian methods to pursue gender equity are worthy of discussion, regardless of the causes of variability in abilities and preferences. Your own path suggests you value less tangible things than wealth and climbing career ladders and I salute you for it.
    One of the saddest parts of this entire affair is how so many, and progressives have been loudest, claim to know whether such biologic differences exist or not. I certainly don’t. Who among us has the expertise to actually review a fairly heterogeneous subject and grade quality of evidence and somehow objectively assess for bias? The one article I find most credible is here- https://theconversation.com/does-biology-explain-why-men-outnumber-women-in-tech-82479#comment_1372757
    I believe many make the assumption that different = worse. Celebrate our differences!
    Another commenter phrased the bottom line issue better than me. Equal opportunity should be permissive not imperative.

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 17, 2017

      Thank you Charles for accepting my invitation and your time. You are very generous with your comments. I try to do what I can 🙂
      I thought Damore’s comments worthy of consideration even though at no point did I feel certain about his biologic claims – I feel exactly the same.
      I also have no clue about these biological differences. How can we know when even the biggest scientists have not figured that out yet. Differences should be embraced and not stereotyped, that is all.
      The conversation you have posted is interesting. I am following it 🙂
      I agree, nothing should be forced on anybody. As simple as that.

      Thanks again for visiting. Please stay connected 🙂

  • Reply

    George

    August 17, 2017

    I can’t say for sure but I read that women (and men) were in the middle east and India are pressured by their parents and by economics to study engineering and computer science. If you’re struggling to get a good paying job, any good paying job, you’re going to endure the hardships of Computer Science and Engineering. But if you look at countries like Norway with far more gender equality and economic stability for women, women are dropping out of the Computer Sciences and Engineering fields and the gender gaps are getting even stronger. This is called the gender paradox and there was this documentary. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5LRdW8xw70

    I think a better argument for why there are so few women in STEM is because women on average are overall *superior* to men. There are more female geniuses who are geniuses at multiple things like math and language. Male geniuses tend to only be geniuses at one thing. So you take a genius woman who has options to go into higher paying professions like attorney, she’s less likely to do STEM.

    Then there is also the issue where women on average marry up. A woman who has above average beauty and shows potential in her intelligence is highly coveted marriage material and she can marry a lawyer or doctor who will put in 60-hours a week while she is entitled to all his earnings. Dr. Jordan Peterson explains this very well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awot-d8U9Cc

    Meanwhile an above average looking man who shows mere potential in intelligence is not good marriage material until he can prove his earning power. So men are forced to prove themselves in fields that are likely to earn good money. But men who come from wealthy families often avoid STEM as well because they have easier and better options. It’s just that most men do not have these easier better options so they’re forced out of desperation to do STEM.

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 17, 2017

      Thank you George for visiting and your comment.

      The links you have provided are very informative.
      I think a better argument for why there are so few women in STEM is because women on average are overall *superior* to men – Your comment made me laugh 🙂
      I do not know if this is true but makes sense. I personally do not think any gender is superior than the other.

      Definitely the gender stereotypes of society make us opt for something which we might not have in the absence of those norms, which could explain the current trends.
      That is why I think the gender and diversity initiatives exist – to push us out of the norm and make us do things which we were not thinking of or at least were hesitant to.

      Thank you for your time. Please stay connected 🙂

      • Reply

        George

        August 18, 2017

        I am only semi serious when I say women are superior. Superior may not be the appropriate word, but it describes differences between men and women where women have the upper hand. For example women live longer and they carry the full set of human DNA and reproductive capability. Society acknowledges this difference when it says women and children get the life boats before men, or only men should be forced to serve in the military.

        My issue with the diversity initiatives is that they are heavily discriminatory against men. Men are already a minority in US colleges (44%) and male-dominated jobs like trucking and manufacturing are disappearing. Women in the US are 56% of college students and they are growing, yet women have much easier entrance requirements for Engineering and Computer Science or other male-dominated sciences.

        This is at the heart of Damore’s criticism of Google. Damore points out that it was Google that used the group personality traits of women (like how women are more agreeable) in their special women’s programs that are unavailable to men. So Damore only raised those issues because he was responding to Google’s own assertions about women. According to Damore, woman and minorities at Google are allowed to fail a job interview and get a second chance, but male candidates don’t get this benefit. Even after the interview process is over, the hiring managers have to meet a quota or their entire pool of candidates are thrown out and they start over.

        • Reply

          Priyanka Gupta

          August 18, 2017

          Hi George.

          Understood your point about superiority.
          There are still so many unanswered questions. I wonder if we would ever be able to answer them.

          Thanks for visiting again. Stay connected 🙂

  • Reply

    Yan

    August 17, 2017

    This is an interesting debate and it’s been quite a struggle to find dispassionate and clear analyses of mr damore’s memo so it’s pleasing to hear your thoughts on the matter (along with a few others I’ve found).
    One issue that has cropped up through my reading is this, if, as some neuroscience suggests, there is no difference between male and female brains, why is it so important to have gender diversity in the workplace?

    Your own take on it, as you mentioned above is… ‘to push us out of the norm and make us do things which we were not thinking of or at least were hesitant to’, but one could simply reply, why does this matter?
    I agree that it’s laudable in a broad sense of empowering people to push the boundaries of that which we thought we were capable but we’re talking about the job market here and the business world not the frontiers of human exploration and such like.

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 17, 2017

      Thank you Yan for visiting and your generous comment.

      One issue that has cropped up through my reading is this, if, as some neuroscience suggests, there is no difference between male and female brains, why is it so important to have gender diversity in the workplace? – I have written about this in the article – Gender diversity and financial performance are positively correlated. Woman make half of the customer base: not including their ideas at the production stages could translate into lower sales (their choices could be different as they are not just the function of brain). By ignoring women you are rejecting half of your potential workforce and losing out on talent.

      Your own take on it, as you mentioned above is… ‘to push us out of the norm and make us do things which we were not thinking of or at least were hesitant to’, but one could simply reply, why does this matter? – It matters because sometimes we do not realize what we are capable of and also what we might like. Empowering is important not only in human exploration but in all aspects of life. Your job and the people you work with in your job could inspire you to do many different things. It could open you up to opportunities and likings that you did not know even existed. Also, it depends on the individual to what dimensions he or she can take the job to.

      Let me know if you disagree or agree with my opinion. Please stay connected. 🙂

  • Reply

    VP

    August 17, 2017

    Hi Priyanka,

    Good blog you have here.

    Allow me to comment here. But first a disclaimer – you are way ahead of me in terms of mathematical and technical capabilities (IITD CompSci is something i could only dream of but was also well aware that it was way beyond my reach). Having said that, I wish there was more balance in your piece. Having read your comment on the economist, I landed up here and first I read your bio – seemed like you would have a perspective that would be more balanced. But unfortunately, the blog was just like many other blogs and articles by females – rejecting everything in the original memo that could be perceived to be even slightest anti-female and embracing the arguments on “freeing men from gender roles” etc etc.

    I sincerely believe it doesn’t work like that.

    You keep on criticising about sample sizes but tell me honestly what would you wish as a sample size – few billions? you cite one datapoint (55%) of one stream (CS) for one year (2005) without any citations yet you criticize sample sizes of other studies cited. Tell me honestly – isnt this how it is always? Would you always keep on presenting both types of theories or only those that support the argument you are making? Isn’t that how debates are always? Someone argues one side and others argue another? Why criticize lack of other studies or sample sizes when you yourself wouldnt cite studies or years which would show women in smaller % in CS in India or any other STEM field in India?

    This repetition of women were majority in coding earlier but men drove them away sounds of persecution complex. Tell me is it really that way or is it just that the nature of the industry changed – more brutal, longer hours or such other factors. For someone who has achieved the heights that you reached, it just does not feel right that persecution theories are proposed as argument.

    I really wish people move on from this topic. A job in tech is not end of the world. A job in any organisation is not end of the world. if anything, I feel pity that everyone now – male and female is so “career” focused and everyone measures each other’s worth through the “job” they have. Health, families, kids, other interest everything is on the backburner as one attempts to rise higher up in the corporates and I don’t get why.

    Let women be what they wish to be. All of this noise is creating immense pressure on women to prove to god-knows-who that they need to have a stellar job in order to be considered of any worth and if a field is very coveted (due to any reason) being there and seeming better / equal to men is the best way to prove your worth. I don’t get it. I have dated women who have fallen victim to this and I know first-hand how it takes a toll on the partner (especially when the partner is not ambitious / hungry / competitive and doesn’t get the fuss around “careers”).

    I am actually sad that you seem to convey that Pichai’s words were right and firing Damore was justified.

    And please dont tell me there isn’t any reverse discrimination.I am at a peer company of yours and we have quotas for women in promotions and for senior MDs there is an explicit field on number of women in the team as a performance criteria for annual bonuses. And I have been asked in as many words that there is a position for an analyst in our team and we need to fill it only with a woman.

    I crave for a normal life, a normal world where men and women weren’t such adversaries. Don’t think this is how it was supposoed to be. Think we were supposed to complement each other and make this life more liveable.

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 17, 2017

      Thank you VP for your time and reading my blog. Also for the compliments on the blog and my education. Believe me, hard work covers up for everything. Hope you achieve great success in life 🙂

      I am sorry that I did not put up to your expectations. But I would not go back and change anything that I wrote.

      But unfortunately, the blog was just like many other blogs and articles by females – rejecting everything in the original memo that could be perceived to be even slightest anti-female and embracing the arguments on “freeing men from gender roles” etc etc – You sound a bit angry here. I have read countless number of articles on this and I have found women – who have supported him and men – who are against him. You can find the references in my own article as well. Please don’t generalize everything into gender. Wasn’t that the whole point? 🙂

      You keep on criticising about sample sizes but tell me honestly what would you wish as a sample size – few billions? –
      At least not forty males when we have billions. If the studies were more concrete, I would not mind but given the hypothesis have not been proved yet and are debatable, I would not rely on such studies.
      you cite one datapoint (55%) of one stream (CS) for one year (2005) without any citations yet you criticize sample sizes of other studies cited. – you tell me what is the number for this year?
      Yes, in debates people argue from one side. But are the arguments based on such unproven theories?
      Tell me is it really that way or is it just that the nature of the industry changed – more brutal, longer hours or such other factors. – Do you imply that longer hours mean women would have automatically left the field? Please go and read the medium article again which has the necessary historical facts.
      For someone who has achieved the heights that you reached, it just does not feel right that persecution theories are proposed as argument.- Thanks. Sorry, but what are persecution theories?
      I feel your frustration towards career oriented people but isn’t the whole point to let people be? We encourage diversity because we believe that the skewed numbers are not natural. Not because people want to force women to work in tech. You said you don’t understand why people take brunt on other things like family children etc, but thats how people are – different. We are just trying to understand the differences.

      I understand that it is taking a toll on women but all changes do. Life is tough. We don’t accept everything and live on. We fight and work hard. If an ambitious partner creates immense pressure on you, then forgive me if I am going too far, but maybe you should look for a partner who is less career oriented. A few right questions would provide you the answer from your partner. 🙂
      It is funny that you said I agreed with Pichai as many people messaged me and said that they thought I agreed with James Damore. They were disappointed in me.
      Regarding quotas – There were minimum number of women required in a team but in our team and the sister teams we knew, there were not any compromises on the quality of those candidates. Before hiring me as the first female in the team, the manager had to wait for quite sometime to find the right candidate. There were no quotas in promotion else believe me I would have got them. Are you going to fill up that position with any female candidate or are you going to wait for someone who deserve it? The quotas are to encourage teams to hire women eventually resulting into more women and better diversity. To encourage women to reach into a field where they don’t see many alikes. Believe me, it helps. Being the only woman in the team or the whole floor could be uncomfortable sometimes. I have written about that in the article.

      I crave for a normal life, a normal world where men and women weren’t such adversaries.- Me too.

      As I said in the article, I just discussed the facts and studies and opinions of people. I have not taken anybody’s side. I have tried to justify what forced James Damore to write such a memo. And how and why the world reacted the way it did.

      Again, thanks for the comment VP. I am glad you wrote out your thoughts. Please stay connected 🙂

      • Reply

        VP

        August 17, 2017

        Thanks.

        Of course both you and I know that you do not have to “put up” to my expectations. And I do not know you, our lives will perhaps never cross and so there cannot be any expectation in the first place. But the feeling is because that some people intuitively make you feel that they would be different from the masses, from the bunch of articles on medium and the mainstream media and such places. You don’t expect them to share your opinion, agree with you – you only expect rationality from them, a balance, a reasonableness. perhaps, I am just tired of the man-woman fights and debates, not angry. Just tired.

        Frankly, I do not care what Damore wrote. I do not care about the counter pieces. I do not care about how many men or women are there in which jobs. Because I cannot bring myself to consider any of such things as important to life. All of us are disadvantaged in some way in some part of life and are the beneficiaries in some other way in some other part of life. Some people live through circumstances where there disadvantages do not cause much harm, some people live through situations where they cannot really capitalise on their advantages. hat’s how it is always has been, that’s how it always will be. I had the disadvantages of being from a very small town and born to parents with very little education, it did not cause me harm. I had the advantage of being above average intelligent and diligent – i did not capitalise on it at least in the corporate world.

        And so I also do not care if my analyst was male or female. I pointed that out just to highlight that in the western world MNCs “diversity” is actually being achieved through quotas. It does not mean that we hire the first female that walks through the door. But it does mean that there could be 10 “deserving” men who could walk through the door and yet we would not hire them because the mandate is to hire a particular gender for that position. It may not adversely impact that competence of the team but it does deny an opportunity to an equally competent candidate just because of his gender. And when, I as a person in-charge of recruitment is ordered to hire only a female for a particular position, it does permanently impair my ability to look at my employer as “completely meritocratic” and it does cause me to look at other female employees in the organisation and wonder how many of them were hired / promoted just to meet the quota.

        People are different. Agreed. But I wouldn’t give them much credit about being original. I would go out on a limb and say that perhaps a majority actually get severely influenced by peers and media in terms of their perception of what is right or what is wrong. So the craze about “career” orientation these days or such other modern day concepts is not just the “difference” in people but also about following the herds without wondering what is best for oneself. That’s what keeps me back from appreciating it or understand it.

        Yes, I moved on to a far lesser career oriented partner. And I am glad we both are happy together in our “mediocrity”. Regular jobs, regular pay, regular hours. But at least, we dine together 🙂

        ““Women were the first software engineers until men actively pushed them out””. & “…..Some men didn’t want women enjoying all the benefits of programming.” – this is the persecution complex. Without any consideration of the difference between 1960s and 2000s.

        And sorry but I wont tell you any number of female CS grads this year. Because again, I do not care. Though intuitively, I would tend to think that women form about 20-30% to total engineering grads every year. I passed in Information and Communication Technology in 2006 and my batch had 20% females.

        A degree, a job, a fat paycheque – that may all improve our access to material wealth and our social stature but will not make a tad bit of difference to our approach to life, our understanding of life’s purpose, our empathy, kindness etc etc – if at all anything, they will just take us deeper into the throes of capitalism and further away from spirituality.

        • Reply

          Priyanka Gupta

          August 17, 2017

          Thanks for coming back VP.

          Don’t give up on the world yet. 🙂

          I would go out on a limb and say that perhaps a majority actually get severely influenced by peers and media in terms of their perception of what is right or what is wrong. So the craze about “career” orientation these days or such other modern day concepts is not just the “difference” in people but also about following the herds without wondering what is best for oneself. – I completely agree. But given what is wrong, do we give up on things or we go ahead and fix them? I like to fix them 🙂

          I am happy that you found a partner you are happy with. The impact of a job or a fat paycheque is different on everyone – you chose a regular job as you said. I chose a website with hours of writing and replying to comments, different things make us happy and content.
          I hope people who rely on fat cheques are at least content with the same. If not, then there is nothing we can do about it. Everyone has to first help himself or herself and then only anyone else can be of help.
          Maybe diversity and these diversity trainings are about that. Companies allow women to help themselves.

          Again, thank you for visiting. Hope you will keep reading the blog and sharing your opinion. 🙂

          • Reply

            VP

            August 17, 2017

            Thanks Priyanka. And good luck for everything.

            I love the world. The nature. The wonders. But humans of the world (except for the tiny tots) – I have pretty much given up. Hope I manage to at least fix / better / evolve myself at the very least in the little life that I would have.

            I will keep coming back. Will be restrained in opinion sharing for my opinions are generally not mainstream and I have consistently invited flak for my opinions 🙂

            Good night.

            • Reply

              Priyanka Gupta

              August 17, 2017

              Thanks VP. Your comment made me increase the nested comment level. That’s a good thing 🙂

              I am glad you enjoy nature. There is nothing better. Just today, I saw a green parrot on a tree in front of my balcony. It reminded me of my mother’s garden and I smiled. Nature can make us happy when nothing can.

              Please do visit. Share your opinion. No matter what you say I won’t be angry or give you flak. I would tell you what I think about what you think 🙂

              Good night to you and your partner.

      • Reply

        exexpat

        August 19, 2017

        “Regarding quotas – There were minimum number of women required in a team”

        If this is in reference to your job in banking, it is not true. And I’d be very surprised if any firm headquartered in the United States applied a quota system to achieving gender diversity in India.

        The primary goal in hiring for the team you were on was always building the best possible team. What at least one of your managers believed was that the best possible team would have a diverse group of voices to contribute to our collective efforts.

        One thing that you may not have known was that I was always on the lookout for candidates from the Northeast because I found it depressing how little they were represented in our broader engineering organization.

        • Reply

          Priyanka Gupta

          August 19, 2017

          Hi Exexpat,

          Thank you for the information.

          I should rephrase then – Not minimum number of women required in a team but it was very much frowned upon by the whole management chain if a team had no or a few women. Some people, in a few comments here and in various discussions over the internet, are saying that they have quota for women in particular positions. That they are allowed to hire only women. That women are given second chances if they fail the interview first time. I do not have all the data. But I would believe you because you have been inside the system for long enough. Would you mind providing some more information regarding this?

          The primary goal in hiring for the team you were on was always building the best possible team. – I know. I did not know about your lookout for a Northeast candidate. I agree. Their representation is minimum. I was (and will always be) proud to be a part of the team that always pushed itself to being the best, in all aspects.Starting from hiring.

          Thank you for visiting Rob. Please keep reading 🙂

  • Reply

    Yan

    August 17, 2017

    Hi Priyanka,
    So you’re saying that without women’s (or indeed men’s depending on the situation) input then a product may not have the cross gender success that it might otherwise.
    If we are to accept, however, that there are no discernible difference between male and female brains, then surely this becomes something of a paradox if one also believes that women bring a different idea set to the table that men don’t and vice-versa?
    Regarding empowerment, yes, I do agree that it’s an important societal goal all round but I’m not sure I understand how this is necessarily reflected by attempting to implement a 50-50 gender split within a given industry. Surely it’s more about giving people the equality of opportunity to provide a greater choice for what it is they may want to do with their lives and, as a previous poster has pointed out, in more egalitarian societies, the gender imbalance actually increases.

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 17, 2017

      Hello again Yan.
      Yes, I think so. Unless the product is aimed at one gender like shaving creams.

      Yes, it does. But are all our choices driven by our brain? Maybe the culture, social stereotypes, friends and many other things affect our choices. For example, my mother does not like to buy bright color clothes anymore as she thinks it is not her age and what would people say. That would affect her ideas. And diversity does not only mean that women would bring different ideas. That is one part of it. It is also because it is unnatural to have such skewed ratios and at least understanding why that is true and work towards reducing them seems to be the right thing.
      Surely it’s more about giving people the equality of opportunity to provide a greater choice for what it is they may want to do with their lives and, as a previous poster has pointed out, in more egalitarian societies, the gender imbalance actually increases. — I agree. It should be all about giving people the right choices and then letting them decide.

      Thanks Yan for coming back.

  • Reply

    Roland

    August 17, 2017

    Hi Priyyanka, some thoughts.

    I went to an all-male school. I didn’t fit in, to the extent of teenage psychosis. I found solace, as a teenager, in personal computers, pre IBM PC. My personal realm was Sinclair computers (z80a) – ZX81 and then ZX Spectrum. I programmed in straight hex, because there were no tools available. To this day (30+ years later), I can recall that 3A XX XX is Z80a machine code for ld A, (XXXX memory address). I think, maybe I recall wrong.

    Many of my age-group peers now in successful single-contributor IT roles have a similar experience – social alienisation, ameliorated through the exciting and very isolated world of the computer. That includes boys with severe medical conditions, gay boys in conservative environments, cultural minorities, and many other categories of fundamentally maladjusted young boys. Curiously, even in retrospect, the gender bias was pretty much 100%, in my personal experience.

    Incredibly, from our own perspective, we ended up finding ourselves useful to society, even valuable, employable. For many of us, that came as a huge surprise – like revenge of the nerds in real life.

    All I have is my own perspective, and it is necessarily tinted by my own experience. Individually I am an anecdatum. It appears that you are too.

    As another anecdotum, I fell deeply in love with the only girl in my ‘advanced maths class’ at university. Of course, I never spoke to her, and it was an entirely one-sided non-relationship.

    So, here’s the thing. 30 years later nerds kinda rule the world, particularly in Silicon valley. Personally, I am way better socially adjusted, having both been successful in my IT career, and having raised kids of my own to adulthood, who all seem to be way better adjusted socially than I was at their age.

    I can totally understand James Damore’s position. If you watch him in his interviews, and yes, almost entirely in right wing forums, he seems like a very young (for his age) sweetie pie. There is some aspect of ‘diversity’ endeavours, that for stereotypes nerds like James (and me, and yes I am projecting) along axes that have never been part of our personal experience. Is James sexist? I am almost certain that he is not the kind of guy that would aggressively chase a woman in his workplace, just because he feels he has a right from the gender-god to do so. Does he want to really unravel the empirical gender-discrepancy at Google? I believe so, and I will give him the benefit of the doubt. On the other had, he has done himself no favours by posing in ‘Goolag’ T-shirts, etc. – and I think he is taking an interesting path in proclaiming that he would like to be an ‘activist’ now. I can understand that choice, particularly because he really has been both deified and demonised, and I suspect he likes the former and is very angry about the latter. In short, he is ripe for manipulation.

    On a different tack, I agree with you – my company is struggling big time to improve gender parity in the workplace, and it is entirely a recruitment issue – my partner is a tech recruiter, actively involved in diversity. We have a hugely gender-skewed CV pipeline. We also have seen women struggling in the workplace, and tried to mitigate that by placing them under female management, and finding female mentors for them. We have push-back from female managers, who don’t want to be treated specially, and particularly don’t want to fill up their direct reports with strugglers. And I agree, that’s unfair on them.

    On the nature/nurture aspect I am still not sure. I still struggle to rationalise why IT studies have become more gender skewed at the same time that women have successfully entered so many other realms, both in the sciences, and more particularly in the tertiary education space.

    As a nerd, I see forums like Reddit more like libertarian spaces, equal opportunity offensive, than genuinely sexist, racist, etc. In the old days it was alt.flame NNTP and subgroups. Awesome outlet for suppressed anger. And nobody took it too seriously.

    That’s all for now 😀

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 18, 2017

      Hi RolLand, (because you put an extra y in my name. I think your incorrect name sounds better than mine 🙂 )

      Your school experience sound intense. Glad most of you did well. Congratulations on your professional life and your kids. I hope 30 years later, if I am still alive, I can also comment happily about my life like you.

      Please ignore my ignorance but what is an anecdatum?
      I also understand his position and I give him a benefit of doubt. Yeah, I don’t understand why is he wearing those Goolag t-shirts.

      I understand. This gender diversity and the way it is handled could be very stressful sometimes especially when no one is at fault in particular. I do not know the reasons but I think there is no harm in encouraging people. Nothing should be forced definitely. This whole controversy and the concept is complex.

      What is alt.flame NNTP? haha, sounds a bit old. Just joking 🙂

      Nobody should take things so seriously and more than half of our problems would be resolved. I learnt this from a 23 year old friend from the UK. Rarely have I seen him take any comment seriously or getting angry. It does not imply he is not serious in life. This allows him to cool the other person and also keep his mind open to actually resolve the issue and make fun of it. Why can’t everyone do it?

      Thank you so much for sharing Roland(no extra l). I am sure you have had hell of an experience. Please keep visiting and sharing 🙂

  • Reply

    Yan

    August 18, 2017

    Hi Priyanka,
    Well, I’d have to say that all choices are indeed driven by our brains, I’m not sure where else choices could happen. I presume you’re making a distinction between nature and nurture here though.
    If this is the case, the problem of a lack of diversity does seem to stem from early on in childhood where gender stereotyping is consciously and unconsciously reinforced (watched a BBC documentary on this very subject last night which was most interesting, ‘No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?’).
    I suspect that this is where the problem has to be addressed rather than trying to set diversity targets for companies after the fact and which appear to be a failure as witnessed in the google example since they were asking employees for suggestions on how to redress the balance.

    I would point out though that if we did manage to eliminate societally induced gender biases (nurture) then ultimately, there’d be no reason for gender diversity in the workplace due to female/male brains being the same and, therefore, neither one providing an advantage. I wonder whether this would still lead to a more balanced gender ratio – I suspect we’re not going to find out any time soon.

    I’m not sure you can argue that skewed ratios are ‘unnatural’. First you’d have to define natural I guess and then suggest why natural is necessarily better. I suspect you’d get into some tricky territory using this rational as this is often cited in anti-gay/transgender/whatever bias argumentation.

    Anyway, it’s good to chat with someone in your position without the terrible histrionics I’ve noticed elsewhere and I’m really just trying to work out my own thoughts on the issue.
    I’m a left leaning chap in the UK but I’ve been terribly disappointed by the left’s hysterical and irrational response to this issue and I tend to see James Damore as a man who ultimately means well and is not the monster he’s been portrayed as.

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 18, 2017

      Hi Yan.

      Thanks.

      Yes. Since the beginning, which would be childhood, we should go gender free. If nurture is also similar, then what would be the difference? Good point.

      The brain might function similarly but it would still be individualistic. Let us say brain of all men work similarly in contrast to women. But still all men are individuals. What I am trying to say is they still have their own opinions and likings. That would still hold true. All women would also have their own opinions and likings which would bring the difference. It would not be gender oriented, that’s all.

      I am thinking about your unnatural point. Consider the gender ratio in the population. Let us assume 50-50. Then is it not unnatural to have 10-90 ratio in something particular?

      I am also working out my thoughts. This issue has raised a lot of debates. I am glad you could find someone to discuss. Thanks 🙂

      I don’t think he is a monster and he meant well. 🙂

      Keep visiting and sharing.

      • Reply

        VP

        August 18, 2017

        Sorry but why gender free? I dont get this. Be a man. Be a woman. Complement each other. What is so wrong with that? Gender is real – do not expect to shove it under the carpet please.

        Uber drivers are mostly male. Will someone raise some hue and cry and make the split less “skewed” please? Or perhaps uber driving is not glamorous enough, high paying enoufh as Silicon Valley / Tech and so not of interest?

        • Reply

          Priyanka Gupta

          August 19, 2017

          Hi VP.

          Gender free here implies gender stereotype free. That nobody thinks that they are supposed to do something due to their gender and take the natural course in finding their likings.

          Yeah, I think they should apply diversity initiatives in driving in India as well. A lot of people, including some of my friends, say women can’t drive well. So when one of my female friends starts driving they are already doubting her letting her think that she might not be able to do this.
          That’s what I mean, no gender stereotypes.

          Thanks for visiting again 🙂

          • Reply

            VP

            August 19, 2017

            Natural course only as long as it satisfies the “modern” day thinking? So in natural course, if a little girl wants dolls, we would call out parents and suggest that they are reinforcing stereotypes but if she wants to play with cars and guns we would laud them instead? In the natural course if a woman prefers to stay at home and be a homemaker and a full-time mother we would judge her to be “regressive” but if she works till 11 PM in office, we call her “wonderful” and “independent”? If it is all about natural course, why all the diversity initiatives and judgement of men and women who do not want to buy into the “modern” idea of a marriage or family?

            Please let people be. As it is, life is tough. And makes one woefully sad from time to time. Why add to misery? Let a man be man. Let a woman be woman. Let them live. Everyone wins some, loses some.

            If reinforcing streotypes is social engineering, so is any active measure opposite to it. For, there is no natural course – because we do not live in woods in isolation. We live around other human beings and media and there would be influences altering our courses from time to time. No hiding away from them. We can only hope that as people get older, they get wiser abd manage to free themselves from the clutches of other people and media to some extent.

            Not just “think it should be”. When are we seeing the impassioned fights for more women drivers? When are we having tax breaks for women drivers and when would we have quotas in license issuances? When do we start calling a man regressive if he drives and wife is on the co-driver seat but laud him if he is on the co-driver seat and wife drives? When do we have media campaings to get more women on roads? High time no?

            I keep coming back because these debates bring out a lot of angst lying deep within. The modern day misplaced feminism has destroyed a relationship that was dear to me. And is about to destroy the marriage of a dear friend. I do not want to. But I could go and on. I try to check myself from commenting. But at times I lose restraint.

  • Reply

    Roland

    August 18, 2017

    Anecdata is personal experience presented as statistical truth. It’s a melange of anecdote and data (or datum), linguistically. The point is that none of our personal experiences is representative of anyone else, yet it is often used to prove a point. Truth is, we have nothing but our own experience according to which we judge everything.

    We also have science, statistics, which help us to understand the broader human existence. We are all special, but we are not that special. No anecdotum can prove anything about humans as a whole.

    Most of the conversation around James Damore relates to theses two opposite world-views. A whole lot of women, in particular, were deeply offended by the assertion that men, on average, are more suited, and/or inclined, to pursue lonely jobs with the machine, rather than having to deal with other human beings. The truth, of course, is that nerds like me really don’t want to talk to other people. People are scary. Machines are non-judgemental, and predictable, as long as we make the effort to learn their idiosyncrasies.

    I can totally understand that women in techie jobs might struggle with being in the minority. But only if their gender is fundamental to their sense of self.

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 18, 2017

      Thanks Roland for explaining anecdata.

      Stay connected 🙂

  • Reply

    Swati Verma

    August 18, 2017

    Hey Priyanka,

    That was quite the good read – a well thought and dispassionate critique of the situation. Some of the other commentators have brought up excellent points as well without devolving into SJWs or red-state conservatives – good job everyone!
    I suppose one thing we can absolutely be certain of is that the media blew this entirely out of proportion. Several articles gave irrational and emotionalized responses, and most of them hardly read the entire memo because they pointed out that the author claimed that women were ‘biologically unfit’ for engineering. I think that because mainstream media painted the memo in such a terrible light, it received a lot more attention than it otherwise would have, prompting the aforementioned ill-constructed responses. The author didn’t claim, not even once, that women make bad engineers, and yet nearly all of the most-visible articles on Google make it sound so. Hard to have an intelligent debate about things when a large chunk of your target group receives ‘fake news’.

    Anyway, here’s an anecdote from not so long ago: I, a female STEM grad, graduated with a PhD in CE from a top-10 university, and I had around 10 of my good friends graduate with me. My best friend and I sent out applications to the top companies in our fields (which includes Google as well) together, and we received interview calls from the same recruiter too. Now here’s where things get interesting. One of the companies we applied to held an interview process just two rounds long for me – I didn’t even have to take an on-site interview – while it had a hefty seven-round marathon for him. And by my own admission, he was way, way better than me. We even compared the questions they asked us and it turns out that the things they asked him were substantially harder than what they put me through. The poor guy was rejected in the final round of the process. The whole thing put me off tremendously, reminding me of the ‘reservation quotas’ we hand out in India that act as a thin veneer to vote-bank politics.

    FWIW, at least James Damore was correct in pointing out that we need to revisit our hiring practices and ensure that they are truly meritocratic.

    Anyway, thanks for the great read!

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 18, 2017

      Hi Swati,

      Thanks for visiting and the informative comment.

      Yes, media did blew it out of proportion. It is really sad to read about your friend.

      FWIW, at least James Damore was correct in pointing out that we need to revisit our hiring practices and ensure that they are truly meritocratic. – I agree.
      Let us hope that all this discussion and effort lead us to something fruitful.

      Please stay connected 🙂

  • Reply

    SN

    August 25, 2017

    Great article! Gender bias in industry is real, but as you rightly called out, it’s not the biological traits that makes one gender inferior to other. It’s the outlook of people which imbibes the gender bias right from the childhood. It’s high time we leave such unwarranted discriminations and treat everyone as a human being without a gender/race label 🙂

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      August 25, 2017

      Hi SN,

      Thank you for visiting and the comment.

      Yes, exactly my point. I wish that this discussion take us to something fruitful.

      Please stay connected 🙂

  • Reply

    Mgoodfel

    August 31, 2017

    Women have been restricted from many fields. I know nothing about India, but in the U.S., women were discouraged from medicine, law, and many other “high status” occupations.

    Those have all changed, but engineering is still majority male. Not just software, but many other areas of engineering. Any theory you have must account for this.

    So write down your theory about computer science in the U.S. Then change the word “software” to “medicine” or “law” and tell me if your argument still makes sense?

    Too many people start from their conclusions and then find evidence to support this, constructing a rationalization for their beliefs, not an argument.

    When I look for factors that are different between engineering and medicine, I see the very negative portrayals of “nerds” in popular culture. I can imagine that a boy would just dismiss these (I did.) But I wonder if a girl growing up who sees these images thinks “I never, ever want to work with people like that!”

    TV and movies rarely make doctors or lawyers look like self-absorbed jerks who are twitchy around women.

    If that is what is discouraging women from getting engineering degrees (and Google can’t hire women computer science graduates who don’t exist…), it would explain the difference between fields, and some of the difference between countries.

    I have no idea what’s really going on. My opinion is that Damore is wrong for a much more basic reason. There are only 2 million programmers in the U.S. There are at least 100 million adult women. I don’t think even he would say that not even 1% of women would be interested or have the temperament for software development. These are well-paying jobs with a lot of autonomy. It’s amazing more men as well as women aren’t interested in computer science.

    Also, the top levels of the companies may still be nearly all men, but I’ve worked for many women managers in the software industry. I never heard any complaints from the men working for them. So it’s a strange sort of prejudice you are assuming — men who will work *for* women, but not *with* them.

    This is all worth discussing in the abstract, but in practice it’s just more ammunition for the culture war going on in the U.S., and so it will make no difference.

    I’m surprised these companies tolerate any political discussions on company forums. It’s just asking for trouble between groups of employees.

    • Reply

      Priyanka Gupta

      September 1, 2017

      Hi Mgoodfel,
      Thanks for reading and sharing your opinion 🙂

      In India, also, women have been discouraged from a lot of jobs and activities. It would be a long comment if I start.

      Too many people start from their conclusions and then find evidence to support this, constructing a rationalization for their beliefs, not an argument. – I totally agree.

      I don’t know what exactly discourages women from joining these fields now, especially in the US.
      Understanding the reasons here is complicated but creating these random rationalizations is even worse.

      Maybe the discussions should be allowed and then refuted? Personally, I do believe that if something like this is going on in somebody’s head, and people are talking about it in hushed voices, the thoughts should come out.

      Thank you so much again. Please stay connected 🙂

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