Hmm… I occasionally notice when people are articulate, because I find it to be rare generally (not women in particular fwiw), so I’m probably guilty of that one.
Nag, nag, nag…
The suggestion to have a program specifically to retain women seems awfully sexist to me. Or is the implication that the companies already must have programs specifically to retain men? How about a program to retain good employees? And employees with key skills and intellectual or social capital. Better yet, I’d like to see just once a company with a program focused on running off bad managers.
Anybody who claims there is not a pipeline problem in IT never got into contact with IT-related HR. The CVs just aren’t there.
… which reminds me of an old joke …
A - ‘I get affirmative action, but who is looking out for the interests of white males?’
B - ‘oh, that’d be congress.’
A - …
Only the uber-rich ones. The poor ones can fall under a bus together with all the other poor ones and the Congress won’t even blink.
Well I guess its an affirmative action strategy, so involves positive discrimination.
As a man, I feel innately confident that if I do good work, I will get raises and be promoted. There are simply no hindrances to that above me - all I have to do to confirm thisis look around all the men in my company who’ve had it happen to them. Even if it’s not actually true in my specific case or in general, it appears that it is 100% in my power.
I am never sexually harrassed or treated differently because I am a man. My work is never interrupted by some girl who just wants to talk about my weekend plans or to “harmlessly” flirt about that upcoming business trip to Vegas (you know - what happens in Vegas! Amirite!?) On the contrary! I see copious amounts of eyefucking the intern pool and am often openly asked to participate, in some instances by members of management. Objectification is a fringe benefit.
When I’m distracted, annoyed, or otherwise busy and politely but firmly brush people off to get back to work, nobody concludes that I’m a dyke or a cocktease or a bitch or a cunt. I can be angry, aggressive, hostile, indifferent, shy, cool, reserved, combative, demonstrative, blunt, and just plain rude and people will just chalk it up as IT business as usual. People are amazed that I can speak in complete sentences in a public setting - the bar is low, more success for me!
I’m never subjected to additional scrutiny or asked inappropriate questions. No one seriously questions my technical competence, my dedication, my career choices, my choice of clothing, my family planning, or my relationships. I live in the comfortable bubble of respectful distance and professional courtesy.
So, yes, there is an implied specific program to retain me as a man, and I am shown it every day. It’s great!
Thanks for that! I’m one square closer to a BINGO!
Well if there was a problem retaining men, you’d have a point, but that’s not the problem. You can’t push this under the rug and say “Oh, we should encourage all ‘good’ employees to stay,” because that’s not what happens on the ground. On the ground, the female employees are often perceived as being not as committed as the male employees, and so therefore they do not qualify as “good” by definition. Personally, I’m thinking about the post on Secret I saw this weekend about a woman who was coming back to work from giving birth not fully recovered because she was afraid that her manager was going to think of her as being a slacker. That’s the bullshit we’re dealing with.
Okay, so now you’re ‘lookist’ too. Don’t be a hater.
What’s wrong with programs that work to retain women? There is already enough social pressure for women to take time of work for childbearing, which is something that is never asked of men. Moreover, once these women start families, they often face more pressure to take care of the kids; they often are the first ones to take a sick day, leave early, or just not stay as late as their unencumbered male peers. It doesn’t even stop at children and can include aging parents, too.
It may seem like sexism because women are getting breaks that men may not be eligible for, but that doesn’t capture the whole picture: treating people equitably doesn’t mean treating everyone the same, it means that everyone gets what they need to perform to the best of ability.
For good depiction of these tensions, I highly recommend Season 1 of “Halt and Catch Fire”.
I think that this explanation becomes a problem when the answer effectively stops at “Because pipeline!” and fails to dig deeper.
Pipeline’s a problem, but a lot of times it is only used as an excuse. There are tools for getting around the pipeline. There are things you can do to pro-actively create a smoother pipeline. Pipeline isn’t the core of the issue, though, and easing the flow isn’t going to make the nasty stuff go away.
Plus, a hairball at the business end of the pipeline will tend to clog things up all the way back to the other end…If people don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, they’re unlikely to jump into the pipe in the first place.
It’s funny you wrote this, I have a story.
When I was about 23 or so, I got my first real job working in IT for a state agency. I turned myself into a kind of roving developer, just meandering the hallways and talking to different people and uncovering projects that needed help. There was a nice lady in Grants and Special Programs who had a paper form she wanted digitized, and so I obliged, and we spent maybe 2 weeks or so setting it all up, testing it, etc.
Then maybe a month or two later, she called me up for another project, a much larger and ambitious one to digitize and entire workflow for a whole swath of grants and awards. It was while working on this project with her that I got
I was then newly and happily married (and happily still!) and I just didn’t know what to do. I loved the job, the project was interesting, I did like the lady (but not That Way), and so I just kind of awkwardly brushed her off a few times, and she more or less took the hint although she never quite turned off The Vibe even when we ran into each other in the breakroom for lunch, which made another of my developer friends do the “OoooooooOOOOOO” thing after she left.
It’s funny looking back on it how naive I was, I had no idea what to do about it - but the one thing I did not do, not once, was consider that by essentially cold-shouldering her that I was somehow jeopardizing my career prospects or potentially subjecting myself to potential gossip or after-hours harrassment or abuse or stalking or … well, who knows. It was simply unthinkable.
And THAT is the true power of being a (straight) (white) man in the workplace: the knowledge that I am one of the Chosen People, the Masters of the Universe, the Elect is so internalized, so taken for granted, and so unquestioned, that it is merely part of my subconscious, like breathing or balance.
An exercise: try to become conscious of your breathing and your balance. Kind of awkward, huh? You have to stop everything, you have to focus, you have to work at it. And you can’t keep it up - you say a word too many times and it loses its meaning. It slips back into nothingness. The subconscious is a huge ocean of unknown depths.
And there’s the rub: I am completely aware of this state. I am willing to change the status quo, to fight for equality and fairness and justice, clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. But the best you can hope to do to me is make me lose my breath or my balance, to somehow force me to bring that hidden knowledge to the surface of my subconscious ocean, and work to reject it and struggle with it and suffer against it and break it in half.
Well, here’s to trying …
I wonder if the Pipeline Problem isn’t a necessary precondition for most of the other problems.
A lot of the nasty stuff that happens is
a) a lot less likely to happen in a 50/50 environment
b) not really that offensive when it happens in a 50/50 environment, because there everyone would be on the receiving end equally often.
Also, the Pipeline Problem is sometimes so bad that it creates 100% male environments through no fault of the people working there. With respect to the nasty stuff women have to put up with, the men working at those places are ignorant, innocent and completely powerless.
But the important questions are:
- What can be done about the pipeline problem?
- What needs to be done while we wait? (because 1. sure is going to take a while…)
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