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Amazon Embodies the Gender Gap in Tech 302

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-let-the-name-fool-you dept.
New submitter chpoot writes: "The Guardian reveals the gender breakdown among Amazon's management 'S Team.' At one end of the team of 132 are 12 secretaries. All are female. At the other end are 12 who report directly to Jeff Bezos. All are male. Of the 119 remaining when Bezos and the secretaries are put to one side, 18 are female. Amazon, of course, grew out of book selling. Book selling, publishing, and writing have all a fairly admirable tradition of employing women. In its attempts to overthrow traditional book selling, Amazon seems to have been particularly successful in subverting that part of the tradition."
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Amazon Embodies the Gender Gap in Tech

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:29AM (#46847289)

    There's also a surprisingly low percentage of female garbage collectors.
    Since that particular job requires very little education, it would be far easier to start there when trying to close the gender gap.
    Why aren't we?

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <.ten.3dlrow. .ta. .ojom.> on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:38AM (#46847309) Homepage

    Rubbish collection isn't an attractive job, do there is little advocacy to address the gender divide. Turns out there is more interest in equality when there is more interest in the unequal thing. Talk about stating the obvious.

    Still, one would hope that if a woman wanted to do that job she would not be discouraged, and if she were people would be rightly upset about that.

  • by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:48AM (#46847343)

    Women tend to be more educated and weaker.

    Educated and physically weak happen to align well with the stereotype of tech nerds.

    The types of education women tend to get on the other hand do not align with the types of education associated with tech nerds. No, your gender studies degree is not as valid as my programming experience.

  • by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:50AM (#46847347)

    Females wanted equality, I define equality by giving the job to the best candidate, not an artificial quota of genders in each position

    They wanted equality of outcomes. They never said they wanted to work as hard as men, they just wanted an equal share of the credit.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:14AM (#46847415)

    Most of the people working for Amazon are box shifters in warehouses. A lot of people claim those are de facto sweatshops.
    http://www.mcall.com/news/loca... [mcall.com]

    So women still want to work there?

  • by cryptizard (2629853) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:33AM (#46847471) Homepage
    How can you ensure that the job is going to the best candidate though? If you agree that women should not be unfairly disadvantaged, how can you enforce that except by equality of outcomes?
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @10:27AM (#46847647)

    Childbirth is exactly one of the reasons why women are at a disadvantage. Because getting kids is actually considered a health risk, much like a bad back or failing heart would be. The mere fact that woman may get pregnant, have a child and would take time off to at least raise it for a few months is a risk that simply cannot happen to a man.

    Or rather, if it ever happens to a man, I sure as HELL want that guy in my team, the PR alone is worth everything...

    Children are a health risk from an employer's view. Depending on the local laws you may not be allowed to use the woman fully while she is pregnant, especially during the last trimester, she will be absent (obviously) for a while during birth and depending on your local laws again she will be out of commission for a while afterwards, in my country this can be up to 3 years.

    That alone makes woman very unattractive as employees.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @10:38AM (#46847723)

    I have a team of all male, all white people. Since I don't care about the sexual preferences of my workers I can't really say whether they're gay or not (in my experience, an oddly large amount of good programmers actually is), so I can only stereotype by the things I see because, frankly, I don't really care. For all I care I'd hire a blue-skinned alien that has all three genders instead of just two as would be normal with his species, as long as he/she/it performs what I need from him/her/it.

    The main reason why they're all male, all white is simply that so far only male and white people even applied for the jobs. That doesn't mean that I'd hire a black dyke because she's a black dyke. But if she knows her shit I'd hire her. Not because she's a black dyke, not despite her being a black dyke, but because she knows her shit.

    I can only hire people who apply, though. If you bemoan the lack of "diversity" in a field, first of all LOOK at the field. If you have two female engineers in a team of eight, it looks very unfair to the women, until you notice that one out of ten engineers in total is female. Then it suddenly looks quite unfair to the males.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @11:13AM (#46847903) Homepage Journal

    Too-long-will-not-read version: There are things we should change now to bring pay into a gender balance, there are vestiges of past practices that will "take care of themselves" over time which will bring gender pay into balance, and there may be things which should not be "fixed" just for the sake of achieving gender balance because the "fix" will be worse than the "disease."

    Long version:

    The gender gap will only close so far, here's why:

    * As long as we live in a society where more women prefer to halt or "downsize" their career in favor of their family than men, women's average career opportunities will be lower.
    * As long as we live in a society where child-rearing after divorces falls more on women than on men, the women who have to reduce their work hours or drop out of college so they can raise their kids will drag down the average career opportunities for women.
    * It will take generations to "bleed out" the vestiges of past discrimination. If today's boys and girls see that their grandmothers or great-grandmothers were nurses and teachers and their grandfathers and great-grandfathers were doctors and headmasters, they will notice and may choose a career path accordingly.
    * If today's boys see elementary-school-teaching as female-dominated, they are more likely to grow up thinking that the job is "beneath them" and not worthy of being paid well.
    * Some jobs, such as being an administrative assistant or schoolteacher, are much more tolerant of long career breaks than others, such as science and engineering. They are also much easier to get into as a second career. This means the talent pool of those who could become trained for the job in less than 2 years if they wanted to resume that career or switch to that career is larger, which in turn means wages may be lower.

    Here are some other factors that are likely to give one gender an advantage over another but the advantage could just as easily be a women's advantage as a man's.
    * As long as we live in a society where girls are "steered" towards certain career fields and men towards others, then unless by chance the average salaries and other career opportunities in "women-dominated careers" is the same as in "men-dominated careers," one gender or the other will have a statistical "advantage" at any given time.
    * If - and I'm not saying there is, but if - there is a gender-specific biological preference for certain types of work and that preference isn't countered by some other force such as encouraging people to have careers outside of their gender's statistical preference, there will likely be one gender with a more average pay and career opportunities than the other at any given time.
    * There are certain jobs that women, on average, are simply more qualified to do than men, and vice-versa. Fortunately, many of these, such as being a professional football player or professional soprano vocalist, are so low in numbers that they don't sway the averages. Others, such as certain jobs in the military and law enforcement that require strength and endurance standards that men on average are better able to meet, are common enough that the lack of a 50/50 balance in these careers will affect the "average" ratio of pay for men and women. If jobs that are male- or for that matter female-dominated are stepping-stones to other careers, such as becoming a General in the Army, then the effects will be felt for a much longer period of time.

    These lists are by no means complete.

    Some of these things will take care of themselves over time. Others will require deliberate effort to overcome. Others, such as the (hypothetical?) gender-specific biological preferences for certain types of work, should probably be accepted as not worth "fixing" as the "fix" - encouraging people to take on career paths that would not naturally be their first choice, merely to achieve some statistical balance - is probably worse than the "disease" - having a small, permanent imbalance in male- to female- average earnings.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 26, 2014 @11:33AM (#46847997)

    There's also a surprisingly low percentage of female garbage collectors.
    Since that particular job requires very little education, it would be far easier to start there when trying to close the gender gap.
    Why aren't we?

    Different AC here. You'd be surprised - this IS happening, e.g. over here in Germany, with many larger cities explicitely trying to get more women into garbage collecting and related professions.

    And the end result's the same as in all other professions: instead of being hired based on grades, competence, suitability for the job etc., people suddenly get hired based on gender, and men get rejected in favor of less-qualified women. Not everyone's happy with that: that is to say, men aren't. Women, by and large, are, but then again they're the ones who benefit.

    Long story short - although the focus is usually on "sexier" professions (in Germany as much as in the USA), it is indeed also done with garbage collection jobs.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @11:37AM (#46848013)

    Purely out of curiosity: what percentage of this "management 'S' team", that the article refers to, are working as box shifters?

    It's amazing to me how so many people in these threads keep missing each others' points.

    Like GP, and apparently the parent commenter, who seem to have totally WHOOSHED the point that "gender inequality" is usually only raised when the subject is attractive, well-paying jobs, which is hypocrisy. Equality is equality, including garbage collection. Anything else is inequality, by definition.

    This only serves to reinforce the same old point I have been making for many years: most "feminists" I have met did not really want equality; they wanted advantage.

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <[slashdot3] [at] [justconnected.net]> on Saturday April 26, 2014 @02:00PM (#46848687)

    Are there? I've never heard of any, frankly - that doesn't mean there aren't any, but advocates for more males in education aren't making the rounds of the night shows talking about it. And it's probably more important - there's a substantial body of research showing how important it is for boys to have male role-models.

    As a personal anecdote, there were definitely a few male teachers in my elementary school who were driven out by mothers terrified of having a man around their child... I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

For God's sake, stop researching for a while and begin to think!

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