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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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  • Hmm.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Travis Mansbridge (830557) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:27AM (#46847287)
    And here I'd always heard that Amazon women were particularly cutthroat..
  • 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) * <mojo @ w orld3.net> 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cheesybagel (670288)

        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 GNious (953874)

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

          • 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 AmiMoJo (196126) *

          So women still want to work there?

          What a stupid question. Yes, I think women should be given equal opportunities to work in most jobs. No, I don't think anyone, of either gender, should work in a sweatshop.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Turns out there is more interest in equality when there is more interest in the unequal thing.

        Exactly, feminism is all about money rather than equality.

        Amazon just hired the best people for the job regardless of gender. This to me would be the most likely scenario, although if it turns out that they have engaged in discriminatory hiring practices I'll happily change my tune. It's the same situation as the pay gap myth, once you factor in hours worked, experience and qualifications the pay difference disappears.

        This story is another feminist hit piece angling for quotas in private companies, which is

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:39AM (#46847317)

      The Venn diagram for "WOMAN" && "STRONG" && "NO EDUCATION" is smaller than the same for "MAN". Women tend to be more educated and weaker.

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

      • 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.

      • The Venn diagram for "WOMAN" && "STRONG" && "NO EDUCATION" is smaller than the same for "MAN".

        And?

        Our garbage collection service has a truck that hooks into an arm on the large garbage can they give us. The truck picks it up with the garbage person only jostling it into place slightly (sometimes not even that).'

        Anything very large or heavy, they just leave behind... there are union rules on what they can lift you know.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 larg

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The most qualified people rose to the top, regardless of their sex.

    Amazon, nor any other company, owes it to gender ideologies to fulfill their delusion of complete gender equality.

    Some genders are more skilled in certain areas and less skilled in others. Deal with it.

  • by ganjadude (952775) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:39AM (#46847319) Homepage
    about how few females are truck drivers?? or garbage collectors? or oil field workers? or (insert other industry here)

    Why does it seem that tech is being unfairly beat up because of a apparent lack of women? the lack of women does not automatically mean that there is some sexist agenda, It could simply mean that there are A - not enough women wanting to be in the field or B - better qualified candidates who happen to be male.

    Females wanted equality, I define equality by giving the job to the best candidate, not an artificial quota of genders in each position
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lagomorpha2 (1376475)

      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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        My personal experience is that most of the female engineers I know, like real engineers with a PE, are really hard workers and can go toe to toe with any of the men in the same field. In IT, particularly programming, women don't seem to measure up. I don't know why, maybe it's lack of interest, worse culture, etc.

        • by Tanuki64 (989726)

          In IT, particularly programming, women don't seem to measure up. I don't know why, maybe it's lack of interest, worse culture, etc.

          Because they are handicapped. That's why they need so much promotion and still don't measure up to men.

      • 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.

        Because there are no lazy men? No, there are lots of men and women that want equal outcomes with no effort.

    • 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 ganjadude (952775)
        Sadly there is no correct answer to that. If I am the boss, the correct/best candidate is one who I find will fit in with the group. If it is a male/female/ hermaphrodite whatever. but simply saying that there are not enough women in tech therefore SEXIST! is not true at all, it COULD be true, but using just the data points provided doesnt prove it to be so
        • 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.

          • You, sir, deserve mod and karma points for being correct!

            BTW, why are blue skinned aliens always the ones we talk about, they tend to be quite pretty (Avatar, Mass Effect, etc...)

          • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @02:40PM (#46848921)

            That's the situation we have at work. I work at an IT department, and we are all men. Why? Because that's basically all that apply. In the last round of hiring there weren't any women. Ok well I could be clear that I can't say that for sure: The three candidates we picked to interview were all men, and the names on the resumes of the other 20-ish that made it past HR sounded male. We don't ask for pictures or anything so there could have been women in that mix, I don't know. Also I don't know who HR filtered, as they don't pass those on (hence the filtering).

            We have had a woman work for us before. Our previous web dev was a woman. She was the only woman to apply, and she was hired (not because she was a woman, because she was the best). However, after about a year her fiance took a job in New York and she moved off with him. In the next round of hiring for that, it was all men.

            We can't hire people who don't apply. We really don't have the opportunity to discriminate based on gender because there are just almost no female applicants. I suppose, in theory, HR could be discriminating on our behalf but I find that unlikely because:

            1) We are a large state agency and thus have very strong anti-discrimination/EEO rules.
            2) HR has quite a few women on staff, perhaps the majority.
            3) Most importantly: All HR really does is check qualifications and pass on resumes that seem to meet the minimums for the job. They tend to know fuck-all about the position, it is just match our minimums list vs the resume.

            So ya, 100% of the IT people in our college are male, and about 90% of the secretaries are female. Well, in the case of IT, that's because of who applies. We can't go and make women apply.

      • It's the job of the person doing the hiring to choose the best candidate. If they choose an inferior candidate their company is stuck with the consequences.

        Enforcing equality of outcomes in a field with an imbalance in the numbers of qualified men and women will force choosing inferior candidates. In those fields there is nothing unfair about an imbalance, any disadvantage is completely just.

        • If they choose an inferior candidate their company is stuck with the consequences.

          You must be living in a different reality than me. Companies are never stuck with the consequences of their actions, banks can lose billions and just get it reimbursed or do some bookkeeping magic to keep their executives fat and rich.

      • 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?

        Ensuring that women aren't unfairly disadvantaged shouldn't be the goal. Ensuring that no one is unfairly disadvantaged should be the goal. Enforcing the kind of equality of outcomes you are talking about essentially means putting men at a disadvantage, which you also shouldn't be OK with.

      • by lgw (121541)

        How cool would it be if we had some system whereby companies compete, and thus the companies that aren't as good at selecting and promoting the best fail while those who do choose the best dominate the landscape. No one would need to pick the rules ahead of time, no Intelligent Design needed for the economy, just evolution in action. Wouldn't that be an interesting system?

        • Yeah, too bad that doesn't happen. And lets be honest here, the difference we are talking about between the best employee and the best employee that is acceptable according to your prejudices is very small. You could hire only white men and be very successful. Maybe you would make 10% more revenue if you had a more diverse workforce, but who cares, you're a racist asshole so that 10% revenue is worth it to you not to have to employee any minorities. Don't pretend that the free market would magically fix
      • Companies that don't hire the best candidates tend to collapse, slowly or quickly, as their more savvy competitors eat them up. And equal opportunities are already enforced by laws, if a woman feels she has been discriminated against she can certainly take people to court.

        Equality of outcome is completely insane. Everyone gets the same no matter how hard they work or what they do? The communists tried that and it led to corruption on an unprecedented scale, horrific human rights abuses, ever diminishing sta

        • It's really hard to prove that you were discriminated against unless there is a written record of the employer basically saying, "I don't want to hire her because she's a woman." Lets also not pretend that you can only be successful by hiring the absolutely best candidate. If all you want to do is hire white males, and it costs you 10% of your revenue, then maybe that is worth it to you because you are a bigoted asshole.
          • It's really hard to prove that you were discriminated against unless there is a written record of the employer basically saying, "I don't want to hire her because she's a woman."

            Not really. Compare her CV to the CV of the candidate that got the job, if she's better qualified and more experienced it's time to start looking at everyone else's CVs. Really, it's not that difficult.

            Lets also not pretend that you can only be successful by hiring the absolutely best candidate. If all you want to do is hire white males, and it costs you 10% of your revenue, then maybe that is worth it to you because you are a bigoted asshole.

            10% of revenue or less is the profit margin for a great many companies. I don't think you get how capitalism works. Companies don't and shouldn't care about anything other than your ability to do the job. Companies that do start caring get eaten by companies that don't. Greed may be the only completely blind

        • Companies that don't hire the best candidates tend to collapse, slowly or quickly, as their more savvy competitors eat them up.

          lolwut? I assume you must be an alien because you appear to be unaware of how things work on earth. On earth, large, lumbering companies basically swallow up anything that looks small and promising leading to these massive incompetents who seem to mysteriously win all the large contracts. The seem capable only of chewing up money and subcontracting work.

          Perhaps you've never heard o

          • I've certainly heard of Nortel, I used to work there. At their peak they were employing over 120,000 people spread across the majority of countries on earth. Now they've been sawn up for spare parts, not even taken over. And they're far from alone - I mean how many companies are around today, and/or are bigger today that were also around in 1994?

            Believe it or not, competence always comes home to roost in the end. Unless you're working for the government of course.

    • by _Ludwig (86077) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:51AM (#46847521) Journal

      Your examples all select for good upper-body strength. You may as well point out that there are no female linebackers in the NFL. Office work and management has nothing to do with raw physical ability, so unless you’re prepared to make the argument that women are genetically unsuited to the cutthroat world of sitting on one’s ass in front of a keyboard, you better re-examine your premise.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        ok fine, Ill change it up

        why dont we complain that there are not enough male kindergarten teachers? or male flight attendants or librarians?
        • We do complain about there not being enough male teachers. There are numerous initiatives and even *gasp* priority hiring programs for men in primary education. Next derail please?
          • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@@@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.

            • Are there?

              Yes. But that's not the point. Pointing the finger at other areas and proclaiming their shittyness doesn't make tech any better.

              but advocates for more males in education aren't making the rounds of the night shows talking about it.

              So what? I think that's more a problem with the night talk show hosts than anything else.

              I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

              Same. That and I don't like kids.

      • Yeah, just like women needing to be able to do a certain amount of chinups to join the military... oops, nevermind...

      • by Tanuki64 (989726)

        Your examples all select for good upper-body strength.

        Awww come on... Gender is just a social construct. If you teach little girls the same way and the same things as boys, they will have the same upper-body strength. The will lose their tits and grow beards, too.

      • Exactly, seems to be a lot of Brogrammers on Slashdot today.
        • It's ironic in a way that there are so many brogrammers deriding womens' ability to code when there were so many women who wrote early computer programs in assembly language, and there are so few brogrammers who could do the same. After all, most of them only seem to know JavaScript or Ruby...

  • Perhaps the person who wrote it does not have English as his(her?) first language, but it does not parse at all. Go read the story the summary is based on if you want to make heads or tails of this.
    • by ildon (413912)

      I had to read it about 4 times before I realized what it was trying to say, but the math works out. It says there are 132 people. 12 are secretaries (all women), 12 report directly to Bezos (all men). If you cut out the secretaries and Bezos himself, you're left with 119 people, only 18 of whom are women.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:53AM (#46847357)
    Amazon is not in the same business as traditional bookselling. Amazon is a tech company which sells books (among other things). As a result, the characteristics needed in its employees are those of a tech company, not those of a book company. I used to work as a bookstore manager. If you look at the types of jobs that are typically dominated by women and the types of jobs which are typically dominated by men, you discover that those jobs require different characteristics. Bookstores and publishers require a mix of those characteristics, as a result, you have a fairly even distribution between the sexes.
    I tried to explain why Amazon does not need to have more women executives, unlike bookstores and publishers, but I cannot quite put it into words. I do not think Amazon would be hurt by having more women executives. It is just that the nature of the company is such that men are more likely to have the characteristics which cause them to rise to executive positions.
    • Amazon does not do a lot of face to face customer interaction. That about sums it up.

    • by west (39918) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:29AM (#46847453)

      One major problem is that human beings over-generalize. It's very easy for a field where there might be a "natural" split on the basis of ability and inclination of 60-40, that quickly becomes 90-10. Why? Because every member of the minority is subject to far higher scrutiny (see the famous "you suck at math", "women suck at math" (XKCD comic [xkcd.com]). Their errors are remembered, their abilities questioned.

      Now, this is *not* deliberate discrimination. This is how the human brain works. We see a pattern and we over-generalize from it.

      However, in the end, it does mean that a substantial social injustice is done. People who have both ability and inclination are driven out of the profession (who wants to be in a profession where every mistake you make will count for 5 times everybody else's in the opinion of your peers).

      So, I see no great leap that we consider changing the the "natural" outcomes of a system to compensate for certain defects in human reasoning systems by building in certain other compensating elements.

      To make a *rough* analogy, in a "natural" setting, the physically strong dominate the physically weaker. As a society, we've decided this domination is not ideal, and we've passed laws to restrain the natural interactions between people. At this point, this unnatural intervention is so all encompassing, we don't even blink at the idea that physically strong individuals are denied their natural dominance. (And indeed, lose the culture among the strong that they would otherwise enjoy.)

      Obviously male dominance in the executive suite (or tech) is a far more subtle matter calling for far more subtle compensations, but lets not fool ourselves. Pretty much every reader here is already the recipient of interventions on their behalf. And no surprise, the world is a lot better for it.

      • You do a Naturalistic fallacy[1]. Only because it is natural for something, it does not mean that it's a valid excuse. By the same argument you could argue that racial discrimination is natural and therefore it's not a problem. What you described is exactly why we have laws against discrimination of minorities, i.e. precisely because minorities are perceived as something different and get a different treatment for no valid reason.

        Now there are valid reasons to have a special treatment for woman, for example

      • One major problem is that human beings over-generalize. It's very easy for a field where there might be a "natural" split on the basis of ability and inclination of 60-40, that quickly becomes 90-10. Why? Because every member of the minority is subject to far higher scrutiny (see the famous "you suck at math", "women suck at math" (XKCD comic [xkcd.com]). Their errors are remembered, their abilities questioned.

        So, the solution to this is to get people to stop worrying what society thinks, and not worry so much about being 'questioned.' Because if you do anything in life, you will be questioned by society. If scientists let 'questioning' stop them, the light bulb never would have been invented. Part of becoming mature is to stop worrying when society 'questions' you.

        The solution is not to implement questionable laws that are likely to do as much damage as anything.

  • huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by shadowrat (1069614) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:59AM (#46847373)

    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.

    I don't know what i'm supposed to be picturing here? what is the significance of the ends? are employees implicitly linear? is it particularly damning that the secretaries are all put on one end instead of being allowed to freely mingle with the other 120 team members? Do the 12 team members who report to Bezos somehow balance out the 12 secretaries? why are there 12 of both? Why are they at the other end? do they never get to see the secretaries being so far away? Is this just a super complicated way of saying that out of 132 team members 30 of them are female and the most important 12 members are all male?

    Are any of them hot?

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:05AM (#46847383) Journal
    Origin of the word Amazon comes from myths about a tribe of female warriors, who would chop their right breasts off, because that interfered with their drawing of the bow string. A for opposite/without mazo for breast. A+mazon means without breasts.

    Or it could be amazingly appropriate. That corporation wants only females willing to chop their own breasts off to be in the "team".

  • I'll just say it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:09AM (#46847399)

    I'll just say it out loud for everyone. Most women are not that aggressive. Most men are. Often it's a detriment in the modern world. Where it's not is in leading business. Why are most HR departments filled with women? Because women and men are in fact different and our gender does affect how well we perform and enjoy certain tasks. We have equal opportunity laws because most is not all. There are women that make great executives and they should have the chance to show it. But to expect very specific roles in a single company to be gender equal numerically is just stupid. Are we going to accuse Etsy of sexism because the majority of their customers/stores are run by females?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by cryptizard (2629853)

      Most women are not that aggressive. Most men are.

      You can't pretend that is some kind of biological difference though. It is entirely socially constructed, the way we teach little girls to be caregivers and quiet little angels while we let boys run around playing loud, violent games. If it means that women are now disadvantaged in the job market, then we should either 1) control for that and make sure that companies hire women anyway or 2) change the way that we condition girls so that they are more useful in the workforce.

      • by Ardyvee (2447206)

        I vote for the second. Seems more useful. And while we are at it, we should also teach our boys how to also be caregivers and quiet little angels when they need to be.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        You can't pretend that is some kind of biological difference though. It is entirely socially constructed, the way we teach little girls to be caregivers and quiet little angels while we let boys run around playing loud, violent games.

        Is there any actual evidence for this one way or another? It is nice to sit here and argue that men are strong or that women would be strong if their parents just made them join the football team. What actual scientific evidence exists one way or the other?

        • I never said that women and men are exactly the same physically. No one can deny that men are generally stronger than women. I was referring socially conditioned behavior and attitudes.
          • by Rich0 (548339)

            I never said that women and men are exactly the same physically. No one can deny that men are generally stronger than women. I was referring socially conditioned behavior and attitudes.

            So, I'll just ask the same question. Is there any scientific evidence that the behavior and attitudes you're referring to are socially conditioned? I wouldn't be surprised if many if not most or even all of them were. However, in the absence of some kind of actual study, it is pure conjecture. One could just as easily argue that the reason there are so few women in tech is that most women just aren't cut out for it, as ridiculous as that may sound.

        • by Tanuki64 (989726)

          It is a religious dogma. Don't question it.

        • by alvinrod (889928)
          Wikipedia has a decent summary with some links to various research articles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggression#Gender [wikipedia.org]

          It seems to be a little of both, with some differences being attributed to social norms and others being related to sex-based developmental differences between girls and boys.

          That said, I'm wondering if it's a moot point as we're begging the question to begin with as we're assuming that aggression is the important factor that accounts for the difference that we're seeing. I don't
      • Most women are not that aggressive. Most men are.

        You can't pretend that is some kind of biological difference though.

        It is. It's a proven fact. It's not true for all animal species, but for ours it is.
        http://www.webmd.com/balance/f... [webmd.com]

        Again, these are generalizations. The bad part about generalizations is that they are only generally true, but humans tend to take things that are generally true and apply them to everyone that meets the criteria. Women are generally less aggressive than men, but I still bow to my sons female Tai Kwon Do instructor when we enter the building. I don't want her to kick my ass.

  • by lucm (889690)

    Yes, we all get that in the Mad Men era it was all about white males (non-Jewish) and everything else was second-class. But things have evolved and it's not because of idiots fighting yesterday's battles.

    Those people look at existing ratios and make the conclusion that the culture or leadership is somehow wrong. This is bullshit.

    Why don't they look at the gender ratio at Curves or at the ABWA. Those places thrive on sexist policy and nobody says a thing, but gay bars catering to a specific subset of the gay

  • the reality is, women are just as capable as men. the _only_ issue is, the _current_ talent pool is deeper on the male side. this is rapidly changing, look at the pipeline. 20 years from now equality will happen organically.

  • 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 petes_PoV (912422) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @11:25AM (#46847955)
    Apart from the rather simplistic notion of counting heads, are there any studies that can quantify the proportion of <insert group here> who HOLD any given position, in any particular company / government office / religion / whatever and compare that with the proportion of that same group who actually would wish to rise (or fall) to that post?

    All the studies I have seen on gender, race, sexual leanings, age or any other attribute all make the basic assumption that all the qualified individuals, from all groups, all want the same things and are equally motivated to get it. And therefore any discrepancy between the number holders of those positions and the size of the group they came from *must* be due to some sort of discrimination or favouritism.

    Has anyone seen any contemporary (within the last 10 years or so) studies that can assert the validity, or otherwise, of this basic assumption?

  • This is management. What does that have to do with IT?
  • Is hiring someone because they have a vagina any less sexist than NOT hiring them because they have one?

  • Where are the male grade schools teachers? Arguably a teacher is much more important to society as a whole than another code monkey. Call centers are another notable example of few men in the job.
    • Where are the male grade schools teachers?

      What's your point? That teaching has bad problems too so it's OK for IT to be equally shitty?

  • Correlation is not causation.

    Percentages of men vs women employed do not prove sexism exists, much in the same way that finding sick people in hospitals does not prove hospitals are making people sick. You wouldn't just walk up to someone and call them a White Supremacist, Anti-Semitic or Pedophile without clear evidence of their bigotry or perversion because those are vile slanderous labels which can damage careers: The same goes for the label of "Sexist Women Hater" too -- Or are we trying to normalize t

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