General Question

phaedryx's avatar

What should we do about sexism in the tech industry?

Asked by phaedryx (6129points) March 22nd, 2012

There has been a notable backlash this week. Some examples:

I work in the tech industry and I honestly don’t think much about it, although it obviously exists. However, I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last few days. I’m interested in getting some other people’s perspectives.


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3 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

I think what you (as a specific person) has a lot to do with who you are (male, female, other) and where you are (entry level, educated but with no management power, middle management, owner, etc) in the tech industry.

If you’re lower on the power hierarchy, you can listen to women’s stories and not be dismissive. You can find out what women find to be bothersome, like in Lighten Up and this Tumblr post, and then make a conscious effort to not be a part of those things, to not tell women to “lighten up” and be dismissive. You can be an understanding ear for women going through those things to vent to, who won’t just reinforce sexism, benevolent or hostile. You can point out sexism when you see it, being an ally to women when they point it out, calling others on their crap, and generally agreeing that this is bs and the tech industry can do better. When talking about something that’s problematic, you can specifically point out that sexist component that’s problematic – not just, poor management, but, sexist management.

If you’re higher up, you can hire women. You can let it be known in your position as the supervisor or boss that others making sexist comments, doing sexist things, being generally more critical of women, etc will not be tolerated, and make an effort to make your space a safe space.

You can point to companies/policies/specific actions that were awesome and helpful, so you’re not just pointing out problems but also pointing out solutions. Giving people models to follow really helps. You can redirect people’s attention even when sexism isn’t really the question (eg, “omg, did you guys here about this totally awesome thing that just so happens to be diverse over the weekend? Let’s talk about it. Also, I really loved how diverse they are, in x, y, and z ways! We should have more of that!”) so that they’re going outside their comfort zone and realizing how awesome Not Sexist can be.

You can refuse to buy products that are sexist, or made by a really sexist company, and then make a point to buy stuff that isn’t sexist or is made by non-sexists, so that the message isn’t just “not buying” but “not buying because sexism”.

dabbler's avatar

Zero tolerance.
Companies that have a culture that doesn’t put up with any sexism (or any other bullshit) have plenty of women in their tech departments. Ok, not 50% but well represented at all levels.
This has to be established and cultivated from the top down, and made known regularly and enforced.

Frankly tech departments are good places for women to work. Results are relatively objective and indisputable. Smart management knows good work when they see it. Smart people get good work done and get noticed and promoted.

Some companies don’t work that way. But they probably don’t do lots of things as well as they could.

anartist's avatar

I’s just not worth the hassle to try to eliminate sexism when it is primarily political incorrectness. It is worth it, when someone tries to redefine your job because of your sex.

However as WSJ noted about the 17% “glass ceiling” [only 17% of jobs in male-dominated fields above that “glass ceiling” are held by women] is not so much that women can’t get “up there” but that men are unwilling to swell the ranks of jobs traditionally considered “womens’ work.”

That leaves a dearth in these jobs and women stuck in them due to lack of replacements, unable to advance. There’s the real problem.

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