I recently read an article published by breitbart.com titled 14 Facts the Tanking ‘Women in Tech’ Movement Doesn’t Want You To Know. The author, Milo Yiannopoulos makes an interesting, but very misleading and baseless argument against the current movement to encourage more women to get involved in the tech world. Please take a moment to read his article and then come back here to read what I have to say.
I would like to begin with a few facts about myself so that you can be sure my opinion is worth your while.
- I am a senior Computer Science and Business major at Lehigh University, a leading engineering school in PA.
- I am going to be a senior this fall and have taken all but one of the challenging “weed-out” C.S. courses that Lehigh offers
- This past semester I held three positions at Lehigh:
- Consultant at the WIRED help desk, a place where students can bring their computers with software issues
- Assistant to the Athletics Technology Department, doing anything from inventory checks to building and maintaining the Athletics website
- Grader for Lehigh’s Database Systems and Applications course, grading homework, quizzes and the final project, holding office hours, and being available on the online forum for students needing extra help
- Last summer I interned at AAA Auto in Prague, CZ during my study abroad experience and worked with the marketing team to help design a database for them to store Google Analytics information
- This summer I have been interning at Verizon Wireless as an IT Intern working on the DevOps team
I don’t want to sound like I am tooting my own horn. I am simply trying to give you a reason to trust my opinion and the facts that I cite. Milo is a British journalist. He may be older than I am, have more work experience than I have and have a larger network, but he does not know the ‘women in tech’ movement like I do.
Now let me address the fourteen arguments that Mr. Yiannopoulos made in his article:
1. The Women Who Want To Work In Tech Already Do
I would really like to see proof of this fact. The fourth ‘Fact’ is that there isn’t evidence of diversity, yet the author fails to cite any real evidence to demonstrate that this ‘Fact’ is true.
2. Most Women Aren’t Interested In Tech, And They Never Will Be
Please refer to number 1.
In my mission to encourage more women to enter the tech fields, I only target the women that have an interest. If a woman knows that she wants to be a lawyer or an HR representative, then I am happy to support that choice. I am not trying to deter women from following their dreams, rather I am trying to encourage the women that do want to be in tech to forget about the naysayers and dream big.
3. Women’s Brains Aren’t As Well Suited To Programming As Men’s
Now this one is interesting.
Side note: The author put two links in this point to make it look like he had sources for his argument. Readers, if you did not check those links, they both link back to an article that he wrote. The same article. I am not suggesting that his facts are inaccurate, but I just want you to see how deceptive this form of journalism can be.
Here is an article written by a Forbes contributor: Women Surpass Men In IQ, But Are Other Factors More Important? So first of all, women’s IQ’s are increasing, and second of all, it doesn’t or shouldn’t actually matter that much. As the writer says,
It’s clear there may be some value to IQ as a marker of mental prowess, but it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Other factors, like motivation, creativity, and, adds Jung, persistence, may play at least as great a role in total brainpower and what we’re capable of achieving. Even so, that women are pulling up to – or past – men on the IQ front is an interesting marker of times changing, and it will be fascinating to see how we continue to forge ahead in the years to come.
4. There Is No Evidence That ‘Diversity’ Improves Company Performance
Here are a few articles that suggest otherwise:
How Diversity Makes Us Smarter – Scientific American
How Diversity Can Drive Innovation – Harvard Business Review
The evidence is growing – there really is a business case for diversity – Financial Times
There are a number of Google Scholar articles as well. Unfortunately I can only read the abstract since I am not signed up for any of these online resources, but the results of these studies are clear; diversity does make a difference. Google it yourself, it is there, despite what Mr. Yiannopoulos may have led you to believe.
From personal experience I can say that diversity is remarkably important. Verizon recently put on a hackathon for the IT interns. Teams that were not diverse did very poorly. A team that consisted of all strict computer scientists were unable to look at the big picture and see what the most effective and efficient solution was to the problem. The winning team consisted of only one male and three or four females. My team also did very well and it consisted of myself, two other females (one from Puerto Rico) and a male. We all came from different academic backgrounds and majors and had different levels of coding experience. We used our different skills and developed a very good solution to the problem.
5. Feminist Campaigners Lie About The Numbers And Reclassify ‘Science’ To Make Things Look Worse Than They Are
I don’t necessarily disagree with this point (but again, note that his one source is his own article) but that doesn’t mean that the numbers aren’t bad. Sure, the ‘women in tech’ movement only looks at computer science and not at other equally challenging and important sciences like medicine. Some numbers may be misleading and that is a shame, but that does not diminish the importance of the movement. It does not diminish the fact that women are in the minority.
A Los Angeles Times article, Why are women leaving the tech industry in droves?, shows us some statistics on females in top tech companies. Google, Facebook, Apple and Pinterest all have astonishingly low numbers of females in their workforce. Pinterest has the most at 21%. Based on these statistics, one might argue that the author’s points in #1 and #2 have some merit and that, perhaps, no matter what the women in tech movement do, the long-term interest is just not really there. However, until we see some actual change in how society treats girls and women interested in tech, it will be impossible for us to determine where the cause and effect lies. If women are still leaving the tech industry in droves, thirty or forty years down the line, after girls and boys are raised with the same exposure to technology and are encouraged equally to learn more about the tech world, I will accept and understand that women are just not as interested in technology. Until then, I will continue to encourage women to be who they want to be and go into the tech industry if that appeals to their interests.
6. There’s Vanishingly Little Sexism In The Tech Industry
Interesting. I don’t mean to sound demeaning, but this is coming from a male journalist who does not see what the women in the tech world see. I would really love to see the facts on this one. I am successful, have performed well in school and internships, and am very offended by this statement:
…there will always be a strong contingent of malcontents, particularly if you hand women a victimhood script that tells them every hardship they’ve ever faced in life is the result of sexism, rather than their own choices or shortcomings…
First of all, this is not just a problem with females, it is a problem with people in general. So please stop looking down at women as pathetic things that cannot work at the same capacity as a male. And second, this is not an explanation or excuse for how some men treat women in the workplace. The author is utterly mistaken if he believes that sexism does not occur in the tech world. And yes, I did read the sentence “At least, no more than anywhere else in society.” Okay, so since it happens everywhere else, I should accept that it will happen to me each day I arrive at work? No.
Let’s say that this is true, that the tech world is no more sexist than anywhere else. So women in other careers are treated just as poorly as tech women. Rather than suggest that we shouldn’t complain, maybe the women in other careers should start to stick up for themselves and speak out against the inequality.
People need to stop ridiculing us ‘tech women’ for our “shortcomings” and “own choices” when we are standing up for ourselves.
To be honest, often times I think men do not even realize they are being sexist. Last year at my internship in Prague, I was partnered with two Asian males to work on my project. No matter how much work I did, when the managers spoke to us, they never addressed me. They addressed the men. This may seem trivial, but it is important. I should not have to prove myself any more than a man should at work. If I got the job, I should be respected and treated as an equal.
7. Identifying As A ‘Woman In Tech’ Is The Kiss Of Death For Your Career
I am “likely to be trouble” if I identify as a woman in tech? I’m in a minority. I wonder if Mr. Yiannopoulos would ask other minorities to not identify themselves with their group? Because I am identifying as such, men worry that I will file “bogus sexual harassment claims, which are rampant”? I love the generalization that most ‘women in tech’ act like this. Tell me more about how women are dramatizing the amount of sexism in tech.
I would appreciate if someone could please inform me of the companies that believe identifying as a ‘Woman in Tech’ is so awful. I want to make sure my application doesn’t land on their desk. I am very proud to be a Woman in Tech, thank you very much.
8. Women Already Have A Massive Advantage When Applying For Tech Jobs
Again I just want to note something for the readers. The author does cite a perfectly well sourced CNN article, but he sources it twice. For people reading through and just viewing links as facts, he again makes it seem like he has more sources than he really does.
If there is a natural bias based on identical applications, that is upsetting, I agree. I do not want to get a job based on anything besides my qualifications.
I will say that when it comes to the real world, not studies, women may have a better chance of getting the job because they are actually more qualified. Many of you have probably heard the statistic that women only apply to jobs that they are 100% qualified for while men apply for jobs that they are only 60% qualified for. A Harvard Business Review article discusses this: Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified.
So in the real world, we may be getting more job opportunities because we are really only applying for the jobs that we feel we can get. So when 20% of applicants are female and 50% of hires are female, perhaps it is because those 80% of men were just not as qualified.
9. Arbitrary Quotas Are Discriminatory And Sexist
I agree entirely! But then I see that he wrote this post: Here’s Why There Ought to be a Cap on Women Studying Science and Maths? So arbitrary quotas are sexist, but there should be a cap on women entering the field? Seems remarkably discriminatory and sexist. Not to mention that the author thinks that the cap should be at five to ten percent.
10. The Vast Majority Of Women In Tech Work In Marketing And PR, And That’s Totally Fine
If that is where the women want to be then I am happy for them. I am not attempting to push women out of the careers they desire.
Unfortunately, after mostly being in agreement, I went on to read the following,
Why not leverage your ability to recognise when men communicate poorly with customers, and make a pile of dosh while you do it, rather than complain that your sloppy code didn’t land you the CTO’s job?
My sloppy code? Let’s stop generalizing women and men. A woman can write code that is just as impressive as a man’s and there are many men who have excellent communication skills. In fact, that are women and men who can write impressive code and communicate well with customers; males and females with both skills, imagine that.
11. Being A Woman In Tech Is A Competitive Advantage
I support other women, I do not put them down. I do not view them as “losers” if they cannot do a coding assignment in a day. If that is what they enjoy doing, if they want to excel in the tech world, then I will stand beside them 100%. Not everyone is great at everything.
Let’s aspire to be better at the things we enjoy, not just the things are brains were initially ‘wired’ to do. I would much rather be happy doing things I enjoy than be miserable doing things I am ‘good’ at. I did incredibly well in my accounting courses, but I would never want to become an accountant. My brother excelled in economics and did mediocre in political science. Yet he just graduated from Columbia Law School and is moving to Alaska for a yearlong clerkship. Some may think our society will flourish if we all do what we are good at. But if we all focused our time at mastering the things we enjoy then we could excel even more as a society. We would be happy and motivated.
12. Stroppiness And Self-Pity Will Not Get You Hired
I find it entertaining that he says that women have the issue of “feelings over facts” when a majority of his “Facts” are simply his feelings…
13. You Can’t Have It All
Sure. This is an issue for everyone in the business world. Not just women. Being a leader in your industry requires time and commitment and less personal down time. Men can make that choice and so can women.
14. The Number One Reason Women Don’t Work In Tech Is: Other Women
Women who can in tech don’t need to get by on their gender, and they are often the first people to push social climbers and weak performers out so they don’t have to be judged by them.
Well if this is, in fact, true, then it is really unfortunate. I am a woman who “can in tech” and yet I continuously commit myself to engaging more women in the field. I want women to know that they can be here IF they want to be here. Maybe some women act as above, but again, don’t generalize us.
Many people responded to his article in the comments section and agreed with him. I want those people to see how hypocritical and deceitful he has been. He uses the same link twice in the same sentence to make the reader assume there are two valid sources. Why use it twice? He makes arguments and counters the argument in his other articles. He claims to be writing about facts but only rambles on about his own opinion. Please try not to be brainwashed by journalists that cannot write factual well supported arguments.
For those of you afraid of the word ‘feminist,’ then just think of me as an equalist. (Though you should know that I agree with this article: Why I Prefer the Word “Feminist” over “Equalist”.) I am not looking to force women into the field of technology and force men out. I am not encouraging companies to hire more women just to hit a quota. I am merely looking to change the way people approach the situation. We may always be in the minority, but that doesn’t mean there has to be inequality. I really look forward to the day when my daughter or niece comes home from her first internship and I learn that inequality in the workplace is as foreign an idea to her as blacks and whites drinking from separate water fountains is for me. And I do believe that day will come. You should too.
Please share your thoughts below.