January 9, 2012
News - On Women in Tech
I have been watching the new Cosmos, and I really want to finish the original too. I’ve heard some snippets from Tyson’s interviews. I’ll watch some when I get the chance. This has been an excellent conversation; it’s certainly better than most I have on the internet.
I won’t. At this point, I feel like I could burn down a forest to stop anything from changing me. In this age, people seem to give up their individuality so easily, mostly through the abuse of new technology. It’s kind of ironic; I want to work with technology and yet I have a healthier relationship with it than people who barely understand it.
Does SF accept college work, such as senior projects, as “experience”? If not, are those jobs just not considered entry level?
I understand what you mean by privilege now, but I think it needs a serious rebranding. It needs to focus more on providing everyone the same good opportunities that “privileged” people have and less on attempting to make “privilaged” people feel like they took unfair advantage of “unprivilaged” people. That’s not productive at all. For example, it infuriates me that some schools closer to the center of my city have drastically less funding because private donations by parents in those areas are lower. Education should never be given up to chance in ANY way. But when someone acts negatively towards me because I was able to attend one of the best high schools* in the country, I don’t believe that they care about making progress at all. In short, those who don’t have good opportunities need to be brought up, the people who have good opportunities don’t need to be brought down. Again, maybe Tumblr and the quote “check your privilege” have corrupted it’s meaning to me.
What I said in part 2 covers what I want to say here too. I have seen that experiment before, and its one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen. It’s a crushing example of how some people loose their individuality so easily.
I understand, but the way the post is worded just makes it seem like SF is trying to “counteract” something that it’s doing. Maybe I just interpreted it incorrectly.
I really liked what you had to say. I think I have some different views on the finer details, but we both want the same thing.
*Despite the fact that I go to one of the best schools in the country, I think that the whole school system needs to be raised and rebuilt. In it’s current state, it promotes being the “best student” in a way that crushes individuality. I only began to figure this out a few months ago. My passion is electrical engineering, and yet my school, which I spend most of my day at or doing homework for, provides me with no practical resources to learn it. So I’ve spent the past 12 years in a system that has never helped me develop my passion. Sure, it’s excellent at math and wrote memorization. But there’s no emotion. Knowing that there are much worse schools out there….. I wonder what our future is. Book knowledge doesn’t solve everything, and not everyone has to go to college (although I do). I’m saying this to let you know that once I’ve established myself as an electrical engineer, if I ever get the chance to do something to change the wretched system we have now, I will, and you’ve improved my perspective on the problem. This country doesn’t give education the attention it deserves. Everyone needs the same opportunity at a quality education, but that education should never be the same for everyone; it should be customized for individuals. If you want an example, read the first few chapters of Carl Segan’s Contact. The main character, Ellie (a female astrophysicist), refers to her education as a “hollow shell of an education at best,” and today’s system is worse than what she describes in the 70s. Actually, you’d probably like the whole book; Ellie faces a lot of sexism as a female in a STEM occupation, and she handles it incredibly well. I haven’t finished it, but I’ve seen the movie. The overall plot is also incredibly good.
How is “proficient with X” better than “experience with X”? I can have years of experience as a lawn mower, but I may be terrible at it. “Proficient” means that you are good at something, and that if you’re not good at something then you WILL fail. Plus, “experience” rules out people who may be good at something but may not have experience. I’m mostly refering to people fresh out of college with new degrees, which will include me in a few years (I’m about to start my freshmen year to work towards an electrical engineering degree). That seems to weed out new talent.
Please find a different word than “privilage.” That word has become so abused. Maybe I’ve spent too much time on Tumblr, but it seems like anyone who is a member of a majority in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. is “privilaged” and has automatically abused that “privilage.” I am a white, male, straight American and I come from a middle class family. That means nothing about my merrit, or who I am. You can make all kinds of assumptions from that, but you still would know absolutely nothing about who I AM from those facts. In some cases, it seems to me like people wear the fact that they are “unprivilaged” as a badge of honor. Again, maybe I’ve spent too much time on Tumblr. That site has some excellent content, but it’s riddled with people on “moral missions” and lots of self deprication that is actively encouraged.
Meritocracies are objective. If you do good work, you get the reward. One should only ever be assessed based on one’s merit. In this situation, “In collaberation we trust” appears to mean “We all work together in the sense that all achievements are the products of the group,” which is ludicrous. Under systems like that, the least and most skilled people are not differentiated between. There is no individuality.
It seems like SparkFun has decided to take the position that GitHub is a sexist organization, because someone felt the need to “offset” payments to it. However, GitHub has clearly stated that one man was responsible for this incident, and he has been delt with. So, does SparkFun still consider GitHub to be a sexist organization? As it stands, that’s it’s only reason for “offseting” it’s payments. The bigger problem, however, is that SparkFun continued paying a company that it considered sexist in the first place. That’s like going to work in a helicopter and buying carbon offsets because you “want to stay green.” If you want to stay green, bike to work. If you don’t want to contribute to sexism, don’t pay sexist companies. At the time, from Sparkfun’s perspective, GitHub had no integrity. So why would it even continue paying GitHub? I don’t care about how heavily a product is integrated into SparkFun. If something lacks integrity, it isn’t worth supporting because the product won’t be any good.
I am aware of the issues of discrimination. I know that humanity can do better, and I challenge it to do so. Being part of humanity, I issue that challenge to myself as well. I can confidently say that I’ve met that challenge to the best of my ability. Some may call me out on this with something like “Oh so your judging yourself? That’s conventient.” My answer would be yes, I am judging myself. I hold myself to a standard, and I meet it. I can’t base anything about myself in the minds of others. Thats how individuality is lost.
Ultimately, the issue is objectivity. People need to ignore race, gender, class, etc. and focus exclusively on ability. If I was hired over someone else becuase I was a white male, I wouldn’t want to work at that company. Nothing produced by it, or at least nothing that involved the person who made the decision, would be any good. A lack of integrity leads to further lack of integrity, and that shows in every single product. Objectivity is unbiased, honest truth, and it is exaclty what is needed to solve this problem.
(Just as a side note, the college application process is extremely relevant to this discussion. Most applications have areas to fill out one’s race, gender, the names of any family that work at the institution, etc. Generally, this information is used for affirmative action, which is, to me, an extremely absurd concept that acts as a deterent to progress. Applications should carry no irrelevent data, like the data I mentioned above. That way, admissions offices are blind, and diversity occours naturally.)
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