re: "Women in tech, where are you?" VIEW POST

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re: First off, some (honestly!) friendly advice: if you want to have a productive conversation about feminist matters, go very carefully on positively ...

Thank you for taking my advice in the friendly spirit in which it was offered. It was not intended to be a criticism or judgment on you. I totally understand how it can be easy to interpret this kind of discussion in a negative kneejerk way. Discussions on the internet are hard.

I think the main thing you and I differ on is the degree to which we believe people's behavior is governed by nature vs. nurture. Let me offer as a counter-argument, my own discussion of the nurture side of it.

dev.to/suedeyloh/engineering-diver...

I am not nearly as interested in trying to determine what % is nature and where that leaves us, as I am in figuring out how to balance out the nurture side of the equation and THEN seeing where nature leaves us. Because I do not think we are "done" fixing the environmental factors involved. Let's spend our time on those.

The good thing is, to whatever extent environmental factors ARE part of the imbalance, we can DO things about them. So my post attempts to start addressing that.

Thank you for taking my advice in the friendly spirit in which it was offered.

That's not what I'm doing at all, quite the opposite in fact. I agree that discussions are hard but I have no intention of adjusting my speech (which I consider to be mild) for sake of not offending anyone.

balance out the nurture side of the equation and THEN seeing where nature leaves us.

Did you read the findings in the paper? The countries with more advanced 'nurture' side observed, that it has the opposite effect than expected. The gender ratios across different fields has gone down instead of up.

Now I totally agree with you that we have a lot of work in terms of making women feel more welcome and cultivating interest in women (for STEM fields specifically for example).

My point is: You are most likely focusing on the wrong number. And the (reputable) research supports that.

So what happens when there is an enormous amount of pressure on businesses and institutions on the topic of gender equality? Policies gets introduced - and thats not good for anybody. And I believe, that was the message of the memo.

If we want to move forward, we need to figure out what the relevant metric is and how to effectively measure it.
From the top of my head Strive for equal and maximal ratios of men and women, who are happy with where they are..

And for me, 'happines' in this context is:

  • doing something fulfiling, something that makes me feel good
  • being secure (financially and otherwise) and safe
  • time-dependent variable

Did you read the findings in the paper? The countries with more advanced 'nurture' side observed, that it has the opposite effect than expected. The gender ratios across different fields has gone down instead of up.

Until now I only read the abstract of the paper. Because you said that was all that you had read. I just spent some more time with it. I think you need to, also. Even in the abstract it says (emphasis mine):

Overall, higher levels of human development—including long and healthy life, equal access to knowledge and education, and economic wealth—were the main nation-level predictors of larger sex differences in personality. Changes in men’s personality traits appeared to be the primary cause of sex difference variation across cultures. It is proposed that heightened levels of sexual dimorphism result from personality traits of men and women being less constrained and more able to naturally diverge in developed nations.

In the Discussion section you suggested, it repeats this message on page 176 under the graph:

The larger contribution to this correlation came from men’s shifts in personality as the mean value of their averaged scores on four dimensions— Neuroticism, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness—was significantly correlated with HDI, r(53) = .56, p = .001, whereas the same correlation for women was insignificant, r(53) = .17, p = .22.

And page 178.

Moreover, these changes appear to result from men’s cross-cultural personality variation. In more traditional and less developed cultures a man is, indeed, more like a woman, at least in terms of self-reported personality traits.

In other words, in the little bit of the paper you suggested I read, it looks like the differences are coming from men's changes in behavior, not women's. Yes, I'm cherry-picking science here, which I'm not actually proud of. But the main point I take away from this paper is that personality traits are partially determined by your environment, which is actually saying there is a lot less nature and more nurture in our behavior than you might think.

Look, I've been in software for 20 years and known many people. I have discussed career stuff with many men and women alike. I have been working with high school kids for 13 years, trying to get more of them interested in software. And I say again, there are many factors involved in the gender ratios we see today, but nature is far down the scale - there's a lot of stuff we need to fix still.

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