re: #bestofdev on Inclusion VIEW POST

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re: If you are responsible for filling positions in your company, what should be more important - that applicants are, for example, native American t[r...

@tux0r , my personal opinion is that meritocracy is a fallible concept that wouldn't even work in your idea of a "perfect world".
By saying:

In a perfect world, nobody would care about genders, pronouns, ethnicities and your physical and mental health anymore.

You're also saying that people should just be assimilated to a monoculture where anything that sets them apart is rendered non important despite them being... people.

It's like advocating for an eternal code switching: when you're at home you can be gendered, have an ethnicity, have physical or mental disabilities but when you're at work nope, you need to leave all of that out of the work place but be this awesome "bro" or "gal" (because you still haven't figured out that gender is a spectrum) and high five your way to retirement.

What I find appalling of this world view is that people are people, they are people when they are at home, they are people when they are at work. It's what is different between them that enriches society, otherwise every kind of product (not just software) would be catered to everyone. Why market diapers to babies when you can market them to 25year old too. Why have different shades of colors as "nude makeup" when you can market one single shade to 7 billion people and call it a day? Naomi Campbell is sure going to look amazing on those magazines if she uses Drew Barrymore shades of makeup. Who cares, in this perfect world everyone is one and the same. I'm sure you would find this super dumb, so why the idea of erasing people's identities 8-10 hours a day should be any less dumb?

Let's suppose the current system is indeed meritocratic (which isn't, not even in your world sense): what do we do with privileged individuals that are occupying space because of wealth and not because of skill? Why hasn't this marvelous meritocracy got rid of them?

One thing that I never understand about people in tech who refuse to hear the DEI argument is that they are supposed to be part of the upper echelon of cognitive intelligence (also utterly uninterested in any other type of intelligence, but that's for another day). Able to discern how a complex machine works, able to hunt a bug for weeks and then solve it, able to decide what's the most cost effective solution by evaluating countless factors but as soon as someone says "maybe the status quo isn't perfect" logic and innate curiosity is thrown out of a window faster than I can say "minority". I haven't even started talking about bias. People graduating from MIT that can send people to Mars but can't see that at the end of the day they are human too and not robots, people with bias like you and me and everyone else.

The DEI argument is way bigger than "Google has an abysimal number of black programmers" but this is yet another thing that's ignored by advocates of "meritocracy above all else".

Italy has a law (still valid) from the fascist period that forbids ANY and ALL non citizens to drive any form of public transportation. Are you telling me that no refugee has the skill to drive a bus and use that to provide from themselves and/or their family? No, it's just the system barring them to assimilate. I can link you examples of black and brown first responders that have been berated by callers because "I don't want to be cured by a black doctor". I don't justify these people racism but if you never see anyone that looks like you two things can happen: you don't try (hence you don't become a doctor) and they think you're less than (because some people unfortunately by never having had any contact with anyone outside their own culture, default to skepticism if not racism when presented with a "novelty").

So, if tech is full of habits and customs barring possibly qualified candidates from entering, why are you not willing to change it?

And even if you think that these habits and customs are not real, why aren't you willing to experiment with the status quo? After all, what have you got to lose?

I'll conclude by saying that just this morning I saw the following video on kottke.org:

At some point they say how when men in the 40s discovered there was creativity to be had in film editing, so they started kicking women out of the profession (despite them being the majority in the first few decades of cinema). Rings a bell?

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You're also saying that people should just be assimilated to a monoculture where anything that sets them apart is rendered non important despite them being... people.

Yes. Because there is a huge difference between

  1. personal life where everything but your professional skills is relevant and
  2. your occupation where only your professional skills are relevant.

Most people don't work because they need friends (& vice versa). You seem to mix it all together which is (sort of) horrible in my opinion. Did your employer hire you because of your awesome friendship skills?

when you're at home you can be gendered, have an ethnicity, have physical or mental disabilities but when you're at work nope, you need to leave all of that out of the work place

Yes, because nothing of that is relevant for your job, your colleagues and/or your employer, unless you're working as a professional gender theory speaker or something. (We have some of them here in Germany. They're not really paid well. :-))

Let's suppose the current system is indeed meritocratic

I wish it was, because I'm clearly not paid enough. ;-)

Italy has a law (still valid) from the fascist period that forbids ANY and ALL non citizens to drive any form of public transportation.

Is driving a bus a tech job?

So, if tech is full of habits and customs barring possibly qualified candidates from entering, why are you not willing to change it?

Because it is simply not true. You see "barriers" where there are none. Do you personally know anyone who did not get a job because of gender/race/religion/sexuality reasons? Which one employer in this world cares about that when recruiting new employees - and why?

After all, what have you got to lose?

Honestly: If the most vocal diversity proponents who claim that "meritocracy is unfair towards women" (yes, German DEI activists are that insane...) get what they ask for, I'll be the least important employee because I'm a heterosexual "cis" white male ("structural suppressor"). I'm not interested in that. Those who ask for "diversity" ask for less jobs for people like me. Is that the future that anyone should want?

they started kicking women out of the profession

See, meritocracy would solve this problem even better than diversity: Skilled women would be kept, unskilled men would be kicked out. Very automatically. Diversity, on the other hand, does not respect professional traits at all.

Yes, because nothing of that is relevant for your job, your colleagues and/or your employer, unless you're working as a professional gender theory speaker or something.

Race, gender, ability, and socioeconomic background are incredibly important for designing and implementing products that work for a broad segment of the population. If you scrub that out into a monoculture, you replicate the design flaws that already exist today, and that's a bad thing.

It's true that the status quo probably designs products just fine for you. They were designed by people who look like you for people who look like you. That's not the case for the majority of the world's population.

If the most vocal diversity proponents who claim that "meritocracy is unfair towards women" (yes, German DEI activists are that insane...) get what they ask for, I'll be the least important employee because I'm a heterosexual "cis" white male

A.) In societies where gender inequality exists, the idea of meritocracy as currently implemented, with the assumptions we currently hold about meritocracy are unfair towards women and other gender minorities.

B.) No one is asking you to be the "least important" as a cishet white male (btw, you don't need to put cis in quotes), we want everyone to be equal. That might look like a drop in status to you either way, but that's what actual meritocracy would demand.

It really feels like you're willfully ignoring the critiques of meritocracy as a flawed implementation of an ideal system, and you just keep batting the term around like a cure all. I recommend doing some reading on the research that's actually been done by qualified academics on the idea of meritocracy and systemic inequality, rather than relying on gut instinct and anecdote. It's difficult to have a coherent conversation when we're operating with such wildly diverging definitions of terms.

And this is why I strongly advocate to exclusively embrace meritocracy because that's what makes someone "succeed in programming".

But what does that mean? By that, I'm asking: what assumptions underpin your meritocracy?

For example, I think being kind and inclusive enables people to program at their highest possible level. So having a meritocracy that accounts for peoples' differences, and individually and uniquely supports and encourages them, is a necessary prerequisite for meritocracy.

You seem to think meritocracies should be gender-, race-, sexuality-, etc.-blind. But that only really enables success on the part of certain people. Wouldn't you want your meritocracy to really foster as much merit as possible? What's the harm in spending time to make sure everyone can participate in the meritocracy equally? It doesn't harm the people already included: more inclusion just means more good programmers!

You seem to think meritocracies should be gender-, race-, sexuality-, etc.-blind.

Yes, because in a working meritocracy, no gender and no race and no sexuality and no etc. :-) will decrease anyone's ability to make awesome contributions. I never prevented anyone with good ideas to participate in my projects, regardless of their personality. And that's all that I can do: not be in anyone's way.

Yes, because in a working meritocracy, no gender and no race and no sexuality and no etc. :-)

That's unfortunately just not true; your meritocracy is composed of people, not cogs. And those people have race and gender and sexuality (and psychology and feelings and children). And they will have issues about them that it will be up to you, as meritocracy-manager, to properly address. Punting on it ("not being in anyone's way") is one form of addressing those issues, but your meritocracy will suffer as a result.

And those people have race and gender and sexuality (and psychology and feelings and children).

And none of that are relevant for any IT job. (Yes, I know that other jobs might be different on that.)

And none of that are relevant for any IT job. (Yes, I know that other jobs might be different on that.)

How is this not special pleading? There's nothing different about IT jobs compared to any other jobs, especially with regards to people having requirements to succeed.

Because IT jobs deal with computers, not with people. That's why I like mine, to be honest. Because of that, you can succeed in them with any personality. And I personally think it is wrong that some "modern" team building techniques ignore this very special advantage and try to impose marketing rules on non-marketing jobs.

Because IT jobs deal with computers, not with people.

Meritocracies are composed of people, not computers, even in IT. If you want people to succeed in them, you can't treat them as if they're the same as the things they're working on. People require management; meritocracies require effort.

Because of that, you can succeed in them with any personality.

This is obviously untrue. People are fired from IT jobs all the time for meshing poorly with their superiors, coworkers, and reports -- Google trivially provides thousands of reports of exactly this. I'm not saying that the people who are fired are guilty or have a bad personality, but I am saying personality is 100% a factor in an IT job.

Also, yes we use computers to do our jobs, but the whole point of our jobs is making things for other people. We build tools for people to use. To say that our jobs don't "deal with" people is a mistake.

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