Friday, April 25, 2014

The Lucrative Linux Job Offer I Turned Down

I haven't written about sexism in the Information Technology field in six and a half years. Any time I have ever written about gender issues, sexism or discrimination in IT, and particularly when I wrote for O'Reilly, there would be many comments by men who would get all defensive, tell me it's all in my pretty little head or if I would just get tougher and ignore it it would all go away. Others would fall back on sexist stereotypes, claiming women are just not interested in computing or are simply not as good at anything related to math, science and engineering than their male counterparts. Those who inevitably argue that the problem doesn't exist demonstrate just how pervasive the problem is with their comments. Never mind that IT is still dominated by young, white men plus a smattering of young Asian men. Other minorities and women are grossly underrepresented. Never mind that women have left IT in droves over the past 14 years and when interviewed they cite the hostile workplace that is the reality of many if not most IT shops. Nope, there's nothing wrong at all.

Last month I went through an interview process with a large company in a nearby state. I turned down what would have been the highest rate of my career as a Senior Linux Engineer. It paid about $10K more than I earned in a contract in Texas last year. Why did I walk away from an offer like that? I was told there are 400 people in IT, all male. I would have been woman #1 in 2014. When I asked about whether I might have problems in that environment the gentleman who would have been my boss said, "I'm the manager. I'm in a position to make sure you have no problems." That's when I knew that I had to walk away. If he had said, "I know my people. You won't have problems." I might still have taken the job. To think he can dictate attitudes and corporate culture told me that a lot more was wrong than even I saw in my interview process, and I had a bad feeling about this position pretty early on.

It's 2014, isn't it? I've been in IT since 1980. I have never seen an all male IT department before. Even worse: I worked for one of this company's direct competitors years ago and the ratio of men to women in my group was 60/40. Sexism in IT hasn't gotten better in recent years. It's gotten far, far worse. Still, I expect lots of comments from people, mostly men, in denial about this. After all, things are just fine for them.

I have pretty much decided to continue to build my consulting business even if it means less money in the short run than a corporate or government position. At least in my own business I have some control of the environment, even if I have to work a lot harder for every dollar.

60 comments:

  1. Caitlyn: Starting anything, especially a consulting firm, for a negative reason, with a negative attitude and advertising it with a negative blog post is an awful beginning.

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    1. LOL. I started my consulting business in 2007. It's not new. It's also doing quite well. I also think I started my business and am continuing it for very positive reasons. While creating an equalitarian IT workplace was never the reason for my launching the business, it is a very positive additional reason to continue.

      Indeed, the only negativity I see here is your comment, which totally ignores the main point of my post. That's hypocrisy, don't you think?

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  2. Well, if nobody dared to be the first one...

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    1. Would you go into a work environment you knew to be hostile?

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    2. Yes... It is called professionalism. Hostility can be squashed by management and if you are willing to perform your duties, there should be no problems. And no, I am not a male. I'm a professional in this line of work over 15 years

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    3. Nonsense. No manager can dictate attitudes. Dictatorial management styles are generally counterproductive and don't foster a good work environment. If you like a hostile environment and feel you can "squash" attitudes then go for it. Most people won't and shouldn't have to.

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    4. I work as a Software Engineer in a mostly male office. We have maybe 5-6 female engineers out of roughly 100. Maybe it's a little different where you live, but here in Utah (at least at my office), gender is completely a non-issue. Our women employees are very capable and everyone knows that.

      From your story I see no evidence that sexism has gotten worse, or even exists at all. It's no secret that IT is dominated by mostly male employees - but I would argue that's because most women have no interest in it.

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    5. Thank you for providing one of the comments I predicted in the article. It doesn't touch you, and it's really the fault of women for not being interested. All the women leaving IT over the last 14 years are either myths or what? The oft reported hostile environments aren't in your workplace so they don't exist. If you only have 5-6% female representation in your tech work force clearly it's because women aren't interested. Uh huh. Why aren't women interested? Could it be that it's a real problem in your workforce in oh-so-conservative Utah?

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    6. I see why the "anonymous" option is.here. I'll opt to be a spineless coward as well (hooboy this topic is poison ... to a guy!). I'm from the very liberal northeast. Where I am, we still have a shortage of women in IT. When I was in college, here - in liberal New England - just a bit over 10 years back, in my CS major classes I only saw about 4 different women - in 300/400-level courses.

      We had no discrimination, respect all across the board - and - 2 of my CS professors were women, and the head of our CS department was a woman (All of whom I respected greatly)

      I've had colleagues, who were better than me at things I've worked on - and ... guess what? They were women.

      You can't force a person into a particular field. Why not look at the real challenges with IT - is what IT is. Boring. Repetitive. Droll. Black & White. How many people really want to do that? How many people can you convince to step into our field - into writing code, looking at endless pages of data, calculating things, configuring things ... or better yet - doing the thankless back-end work that keeps everyone moving, but no-one appreciates?

      I hate to even attempt to use a stereotype of any sort ; but - just from what I've experienced throughout the entirety of my own life ... women tend to be more social than men. A quick google search of this turns up newspaper published pieces saying the same: women are more social than men (this is published in newspapers out of NYC, not my words - it's what I found.) How often do I socialize while I'm doing my IT work? Not much. It's something that people who can go without some social interaction - can do. Whether that person is a male or female. It makes no difference. Who can handle a dull job, with little social interaction ... and not want to rip their hair out? If that's you - here's IT. Welcome.

      I know - my own mother was questioning me when I said I wanted to get into IT. I later found out she originally majored in computer science .... and hated it. She moved to a business program & never looked back.

      The crux of the matter - is IT is a dull boring job - heh, for the most part, and to plenty of people. ( OK ok ... I got overly excited over some graphical work I did a while back - when I was running around showing off my black & white pictures people looked at me funny. To some of us, it can be exciting. To those of us who entered the field because it seemed like a good career move - it's hell. )

      Anyway, those are my two cents. I really think it all boils down to the nature of the job - and the nature of the people willing to take the job.

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    7. It may be true that IT jobs are boring, but I can think of two counterexamples to your argument.
      1.) Not all IT jobs involve being a loner. For example, being an academic or in education are both really social jobs. As a researcher, you have to set up and maintain collaborations with others in your field to stay current and get published. And teaching is inherently social since you have to connect with your students. Even if women stayed out of tech because the jobs were antisocial, there should still be plenty of female professors, researchers, and educators in IT. There are not; this is a contradiction.

      2.) There are plenty of boring jobs outside of IT that are dominated by women. ~85% of bookkeeping, accounting, auditing, or office clerks in the US are women. Now let's see how being a clerk compares to being in IT (the asterisk bit is skippable):

      **********
      You can't force a person into a particular field. Why not look at the real challenges with being a clerk - is what clerical work is. Boring. Repetitive. Droll. Black & White. How many people really want to do that? How many people can you convince to step into our field - into looking at endless pages of data, calculating things ... or better yet - doing the thankless back-end work that keeps everyone moving, but no-one appreciates? ...
      How often do clerks socialize while doing their clerical work? Not much. Being a clerk is something that people who can go without some social interaction - can do. Whether that person is a male or female. It makes no difference. Who can handle a dull job, with little social interaction ... and not want to rip their hair out? If that's you - here's being a clerk. Welcome. ...
      The crux of the matter - is clerical work is a dull boring job - heh, for the most part, and to plenty of people. (To those clerks who entered the field because it seemed like a good career move - it's hell.)
      **********

      Anyway, the stereotype of women being more social than men has no truth behind it when you apply it to the occupations that women and men tend to work in. The nature of the job -and the nature of the people willing to take the job have nothing whatsoever to do with it. There are plenty of women willing to take dull repetitive unsocial jobs. They would gladly rather take a high-paying dull repetitive job by taking a short programming class than stay in a low-paying dull repetitive job. So it's not true that there is something in the nature of IT that keeps women away because women do lots of work similar in nature to IT.

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    8. The simple truth that you cannot legislate behaviour, or attitudes, should make almost all the replies to this thread moot. Donald Sterling is a prime example. This applies en everything, not just workplace. As a black man I have been the only black person in many an environment. Some it was okay, some had some tension, some were hostile. I do not relish the thought of being the only black person in a 100 person environment, whatever reasons there are behind it being that way are irrelevant, I do not wish to be the first, that takes a kind of person that I do not wish to be. My choice... We all should respect her's.

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    9. I agree with everything you say, Unknown, but at the same time "I am in a position to make it not a problem" is incredibly condescending. So yes, I also agree that this would likely be a bad environment here.

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  3. "Those who inevitably argue that the problem doesn't exist demonstrate just how pervasive the problem is with their comments."

    Seriously? What you're essentially saying then is "if you agree with me then it's unanimous and clearly a problem, and if you disagree that proves there's a problem" all the while providing exactly zero evidence to back your assertions.

    Give me an effin break.

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    1. Thank you for demonstrating so aptly one of my points in the article. Men who write the inevitable and expected negative comments to any and all articles pointing up sexism in the workplace demonstrate just how serious the problem is.

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    2. I think you should have taken it. People with poor attitudes will receive disciplinary action and too many of those cause termination of employment. You cannot change people as you say but you can teach them through professional methods to keep what they have to themselves or be sacked. I'm sure where you have worked before there were homophobes, racists and all sorts of things like that and you still took those jobs. If you think you have never had a co-worker with a bad agenda etc then you are deluded. You got on and you did the job. Same with the job you turned down. Maybe the people you could have worked with were Jehovas witnesses (I'm not religious. It's an example) and they find your way of life reprehensible? They are working there now and keeping professional.

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    3. Caitlyn, I am sympathetic to both points and I think in your zeal to point out what was a real problem in this place you interviewed at, you are missing the counterpoint. If you say that denying that a problem exists validates the extent of the problem, then if the problem were solved it would be everywhere. Such a path leads nowhere.

      I don't know that the problem is specific to IT. I suspect the manager is well meaning and believing that he is protecting the workers from discrimination and harassment, but is totally tonedeaf. Such an environment I think you are right to avoid, but at the same time I am also uncomfortable with saying that denying problems shows how pervasive they are.

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  4. Without questioning the wisdom of Ms. Martin's decision or the way she experienced the interview and offer, I think a key element in the story undercuts the assumption that sexism is involved. If you are offered a job, and you turn it down, that sounds like voluntary self-exclusion more than sexism. If many women voluntarily self-exclude, then there is something about the job that makes it appeal more to men than women. That isn't necessarily sexism. On an average basis men and women have different preferences in many areas. This may be ignored or forgotten, but that makes it no less true.

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    1. I never accused the company in question of having discriminatory hiring practices today. Did it occur to you that a hostile workplace environment is the reason they can't hire or retain female IT staff? Sorry, but here is someone else using stereotypes and gender bias to justify the sexism in the industry. No sale.

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    2. Sorry, but try taking a more detached p.o.v. and reread your original comment and your followup. You pretty much defined the canonical catch-22 n your article and he called it out. If you still can't see it, perhaps we found your problem; Most IT work requires strong logic skills. James pointed that logical problem out and you just restated the same catch-22 back at em without even a hint of catching the point. Having zero prior knowledge of you prior to following a link in from Linux Today (as I'm sure many other commenters did) certainly doesn't inspire confidence. Difference is I'm just crazy enough to say it directly.

      As to the bigger point, IT is a field, like many others, that only a few percent of the population could do if they wanted to and only a fraction of those have the inclination. That that group doesn't exhibit the EEOC required balance is not really remarkable, it would be notable if it did in point of fact. So if people are getting actual hostility or discrimination that is something that should indeed be rooted out, otherwise let diversity flower.

      Hint: diversity in the real (not PC) sense. We should celebrate diversity because we ARE different, individuals, genders, races, religions, even subgroups. Different in the distribution of genetic traits, cultural inclinations, everything. The world would be a much poorer place if we were all interchangable cogs in the machine. There wouldn't be any diversity worth celebrating.

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    3. I'm involved on the board of the diversity council where I work, and the under-representation of women in technology is an issue we work on. However, if there are no women in the IT department and all the women applying keep self-selecting out, HOW will the situation change?

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    4. I wish I could be surprised at the tone of the comments Caitlyn is getting here. At least it illustrates that indeed, things have become in some respects since the 80s, when, as my numerous technical friends who were around at that time, there was a shared feeling of common purpose and belonging to not only a technical, but also a social avant-garde. Seeing men lecture Caitlyn about the catch-22 aspect of the situation when this is one of the topics of her article grates on me.

      The point is, expecting women to unquestioningly jump into the hostile fray like good little soldiers to fight the good fight for the future of our sex, is neither fair nor actually realistic. It's not Caitlyn's responsibility to sacrifice quality of (work) life to maybe make a small change in a company that evidently doesn't even care or show any indication of awareness of the problem, while her male commenters sit back and don't seem to think it's their job to contribute anything. It's her responsibility to make career decisions that are beneficial for her and her environment.

      Sometimes most of us who work in male-dominated fields will feel adventurous and confident and take up the charge, but sometimes we just want to be ordinary professionals who make decisions based on needs and expectations. If any of you is free to not take a job because the office is too dark or the location and hours impractical for the kids' childcare then Caitlyn damn well can not take a job because she expects -- right or wrong -- to feel alienated and trapped into making a disciplinary issue out of any conflict. An all-male IT department of *400* sounds like an unlikely statistical fluctuation. They messed it up -- up to them to take measures to fix it.

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  5. When the company was hiring for the first time, there was a manager. The women involved didn't want to work in an all male environment. So she turned the job down. When the company had 10 employees (all male), a woman came down, didn't want to work for an all male environment and turned the job down. Then the company grew really big. It had 100 males at work. A women came down, etc. You can't change the ratio by turning jobs down and then go rapping around "it's sexism". Apart from the ratio what solid proof did you have sexism was involved? And 60/40 is rather high. Are you sure there wasn't a tool like "affirmative action" involved that artificially cranked up these numbers?

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    1. If my former employer used affirmative action to create a more diverse environment then that was a very good thing. I can tell you that we had one of the best teams I've ever worked in. Truly outstanding people from all over the world. They hired and retained the absolute best. Diversity and a variety of perspectives, IME, always produce superior results.

      Do you really think ANY company can reach 400 people in IT with no women at all without sexism being involved? Give me a break! Look, your stock in trade is denying sexism on any and all articles about it. Sorry, Hans, you have zero credibility with me.

      Oh, and if you're going to try and debate me on this endlessly and dominate the conversation as you have in the past, please, don't bother. The posts won't be approved.

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  6. "The fish rots from the head," writ large. Excellent insight into the psychology of corporate culture.

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  7. I wish you well. Perhaps you should get in contact with Carla Schroder, author of "Linux Cookbook" as she might have some pointers for you.

    The issues are more involved than just lack of women in IT. Salaries, promotions, leadership, on and on for women are issues in the entire workplace. In previous years I went to two Ohio LinuxFest conferences and at the end were sessions on cultural diversity and harassment of women. I went to one meeting and they discussed a lot in 2 hours, but not much came from the meeting in my opinion. I didn't witness harassment at the conferences, but then maybe I don't tune into things like that very well. Apparently the harassment situation for women isn't improving.

    I'm afraid that much of the IT culture tends to be for males because for males the need for social connections is weak or non-existent, but for females the social connections are expected and are more "normal" than they are for men. I don't know how important this gender difference really is, but the uncommunicative, confrontational side of men seems to come out quickly and consistently in IT. Men tend to stake out their "territory" or positions as a normal behavior. (sometimes reasoned, sometimes not)

    As an example, I usually write computer scripts and code for my computer repair business in isolation partly because I need uninterrupted blocks of time to concentrate. I rarely search out people to help when i run into coding problems. When that does happen, I usually head to the Internet to search for what I need--and I usually find it in an answer to someone else's similar query. My searching is never from formal groups such as Facebook. (I trashed my Facebook account some time back as I considered it a huge waste of my time.) Special It interest groups and IRC look as if they might be useful on my searching, but I usually find them focused on something not really relevant to my needs. I'm not willing to wait days for a posting related to my query.

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    1. I've been in touch with Carla for years. She's the person who got me started writing for O'Reilly in 2005. She's an outstanding and knowledgeable writer and someone whom I greatly respect.

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  8. Stand your ground. You have earned it.

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  9. You are quite right, sexism in the industry has undoubtedly become worse over the last 40 years.

    When I started as a programmer in 1974, the industry was more gender-neutral than any other. I was surprised, but pleasantly so

    Fast forward several decades and I was shocked to find that a female former student of mine, a very bright woman indeed, had abandoned IT and become a beautician because she could no longer stand the way she, as a woman, was treated in the IT industry.

    BTW, just to confirm, I am a man.

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    1. Many men see the problems, understand them, and would like to change them. I'm glad you've chosen to speak out here. Thank you.

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  10. "Sexism in IT hasn't gotten better in recent years. It's gotten far, far worse. Still, I expect lots of comments from people, mostly men, in denial about this. After all, things are just fine for them."

    There I have to agree with you. In fact teen relationships in the last 2 decades have gotten worst. So much more in young males conditioning and attitudes toward females. I seen and dealt with it with my twin daughters. Young men with their more ghetto like attitudes that teen girls are sex objects and their puppets. Fueled by fellowship of Cool Male and thru films and music industry.

    As to denial well your statement is true enough. But I have found that is more about human nature. As seen just as many women in denial on other issues. Like why do you let him ignore or cheat or beat you and continue to go back? Why do you keep going back to the Bad boy and ignore the good and supportive co-worker,neighbor,etc. male right in front of you?

    Being a computer engineering tech at a major company for many years. The females which were there a few came to me complaining. I told them all they could do was continue to play their Competence & Skills cards and to stand up for themselves and I would back them to the hilt when they were indeed right to do so. And to leave the Female & Feminism cards in their deck. As this game between Males & Females will not be won with females playing the Victim cards.

    Most men are really still teenagers in mind and emotions. They weren't pressured from society and the lack of Father's and (Elders) to confronted them about their behaviors,beliefs and actions as childish. So most never really matured.

    And I could flip the coin pointing out the skewed conditioning of females being conditioned about finding a man is paramount to become a complete woman and bearing his children as their main function. Or how they fixate on growing up with the Shinning Knight and Handsome Prince syndrome.

    But all this comes down to dealing with prejudices and immaturities. Keeping a mature and positive attitude and not getting drawn into their childish circles. Stepping forth as the Best Human being through constructive and positive action and deed.

    Society does change and it does improves for race,sex,gender,etc... but at a snails glacier like pace in small improvements over time. And will continue so until so called adults start to become more confrontational and honest and start to confront each other on behaviors that are unacceptable by them and society. It will continue to be issues well into the next century.

    And yes I'm a Man! So there! :-)

    .

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    1. As I mentioned above, many men see the problem and do their best to improve things. No "so there!" is necessary. The number of male colleagues I respect greatly outnumber the numbskulls.

      I agree with you that there is a much wider societal problem and that the issues in IT are a reflection of that. The problems get amplified in male dominated fields, not just IT. Thank you for raising that issue.

      I have another article in the works, not about sexism or any other -ism per se, but rather one critiquing the way hiring in IT is done nowadays, and in particular critiquing the advice given in a recent article in CIO magazine that may shed more light on the situation I wrote about here.

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  11. I think it's amazing that you have been in the business for so long, and have your own consulting company. My fiance' and I are going to start one as well called Attack Surface in Canada. He has 2 decades of experience in the industry, and I'm a noob loving Linux. Good luck with your business.

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  12. You asked if you would be mistreated... The manager said he would make sure that you weren't, which is his job, as the manager. You then inferred that you would be mistreated.

    There is absolutely no logic to your assumptions. Assuming that men will abuse you, because they are men, is bigoted.

    You were offered a job, didn't take it, and then complain that they don't hire women? How is this rational?

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    1. Do you know anything at all about management? Nobody can dictate workplace attitudes. You can foster a positive work environment but no manager can tell people what to think. To do so is entirely counterproductive. I have 34 years in IT, including 17 years running IT related businesses and 6 years as a corporate IT Director. My comments are rational because I understand how to manage people. That manager clearly did not. Dictating doesn't work.

      As far as you calling me bigoted, geez! You're a joke. I didn't assume I would be "abused". What I did assume, after a full interview process, is that it would not be a good workplace for me. I think it's also 100% safe to assume that you are male and have no idea whatsoever what women face in the workplace. Any workplace.

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  13. I've seen my share of sexism as an IT/Tech Ops professional for 18 years, but I've also realized that many (dare I say, most?) men are delighted to have women on their teams.

    I actively seek out companies that value a a mixture of men and women in technical roles.

    I would not have taken that position either; you have no responsibility to be the sole female icon in an IT team that size.

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    1. I agree completely, Julie. The majority of men are absolutely fine to work with. As I said in a comment above, the number of male colleagues I have had the pleasure of working with and respect far outnumber the numbskulls. Like you, I seek out diversity, not just in terms of gender, but in all respects. In my experience diverse environments are the best ones both in terms of the quality of people and the variety of perspectives they bring to solving problems.

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  14. A Guardian article on the same subject published on the same day:
    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/25/amazon-employs-18-women-among-120-senior-managers

    P.S. Thanks for allowing OpenID and Anonymous comments!

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    1. Thanks for the link. Yet I still have comments claiming I'm the bigoted one or that the problem really doesn't exist or is just due to hard wired differences between men and women.

      BTW, so long as I can moderate comments and not be flooded with SPAM or hate I will keep commenting as open as possible. I want to encourage discussion rather than restrict it to what extent that's feasible.

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  15. People rarely think in depth about about their responses to questions that were not on their radar, and one answer from a person, manager or peer may not be the best way to judge him or her. I reckon if you felt uncomfortable, following your gut instincts is absolutely the right way to go about it. While some may feel you had given up the opportunity for changing this company, whether you choose to be avenue for change is of course your choice no one else's.

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  16. Hi Caitlyn, Thanks for this post. I think you are right that sexism (and racism) are alive and well in both the IT industry and society at large, and we need allies from privileged groups to acknowledge what's going on and take steps to make things better.

    Fwiw, I work in a team that specializes in open source software development (Drupal), and the majority the team are women, including the management. Drupal has some very prominent women developers.

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  17. i believe you made the right choice, but i wonder why it would have been better if the interviewer had said: "I know my people. You won't have problems." because frankly, i would not have believed him. sounds more like a statement by someone who doesn't believe that there is a problem at all. "I'm the manager. I'm in a position to make sure you have no problems." is at least admitting that problems are real. it seems more like a toss-up. and no, i wouldn't expect anyone to go for either.

    even as a male i would not want such a position.

    the real question then is, how can the situation be turned around?

    i am trying to be contructive here. would it help to hire whole new teams of all female or mixed gender? in other words, instead of having one woman among 400 men there'd be a few new teams among the old male only teams?

    female only teams wouldn't have to deal with bad male behavior on a day-to-day basis, only when working across teams or during breaks. and new mixed teams would have a chance to develop proper interaction from the start.

    not an ideal situation either, but maybe a start?

    greetings, eMBee.

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    1. What made the manager's response onerous is that it displayed his managerial style and, based on the other interviews I had leading up to that one, the managerial style in IT and possibly the company as a whole. The answer I suggested implies that the people he works with would welcome diversity and change. The answer he gave implies he can dictate attitudes and culture, which he simply cannot.

      As I never worked in that company I would not presume to suggest how they should make changes or how they can attract a diverse pool of qualified help. I saw the symptoms of a problem in the attitudes of those I spoke to. I had one gentleman in the interview process express surprise that a woman can do my job.

      One fact I did not add: this position is in a small southern city in a very conservative state. The issue is, in part, cultural.

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    2. "The answer I suggested implies that the people he works with would welcome diversity and change." ok, i didn't read that at all into your suggested answer. but i get what you mean, yes, that would be a lot better.

      greetings, eMBee.

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  18. The numbers are in; we chase women away from STEM careers and IT in particular in droves. I can only assume that I probably do some of the things that reinforce this problem, as much as I think of myself as enlightened in this area. However, this post gives me nothing to go on, no avenue to pursue, to try to improve the situation, or my own behavior. What specific things might I be doing that perpetuate this situation that I could improve upon, or do differenty?

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    1. There is a great list of things you might be doing, and things you can do differently, on Geek Feminism here: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Resources_for_allies

      I especially like Valerie Aurora's Howto for encouraging women in Linux: http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/

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  19. If you don't want to work for a particular person based on his management style, then don't. Or if you don't want to work for a department which has been all male, then don't. If you have other reasons, based on other interviews, then don't work for them.

    But it seems that you have larded all of the apparently many reasons for not working for the company into one sentence by the hiring manager.

    Perhaps you have reasons to believe that the work environment would be hostile. You don't mention what those are and I don't see the manager's response to your question as evidence of this. I see his response as the manager taking personal responsibility for the work environment and offering you assurances that he would insure that you not have problems. The hypothetical reply which you say you would have preferred doesn't indicate that he would take any responsibility. On the contrary, it says that there is no problem and doesn't allow for the possibility that one might arise. Would you have seriously taken the job if he gave you this wishy-washy response? Or would you have turned down the job for all of the other reasons, complaining about a manager who wouldn't take responsibility for the work environment?

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  20. I checked the post today to find one hate filled anonymous comment after another by men who are clearly threatened by the idea of competing with women on an equal basis. To all those who say I am the problem or women are the problem or there is no problem, here is another recent example of just how bad it gets in IT today: http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/15/julie-ann-horvath-describes-sexism-and-intimidation-behind-her-github-exit/

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    1. This particular situation sounds more like a spouse that is trying to insinuate herself into the Business. That is ALWAYS a toxic situation (and it can be a Male or Female spouse/Significant other)

      Was it wrong on Githubs part, no doubt, but it sounds more like a political issue then a sexist issue (sometimes those are one in the same as sexism is a tool that can be used in these situations)

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  21. For those wonderful Anonymous people who object to my moderating comments, please see: http://ever-increasing-entropy.blogspot.com/search?q=censorship I do accept one criticism: I probably shouldn't accept Anonymous comments from anonymous cowards.

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  22. If I were to start over in the work force, I am not sure I'd consider Information Technology -- not given how things are today. As IT budgets continue to shrink, the prevailing IT climate has become quite cold and clinical and the larger the organization, the more 'political' it gets. And with fewer jobs to go around in the job market, everybody is turning from 'information sharer' to 'proprietary' to protect their own job turf for fear of losing their job. It's not a healthy situation.

    Were I you, I'd be looking at working in a 'close-knit' start-up company (under 50 employees) where knowing people by name and getting things done happens overnight, not by committee taking months. There are risks working in start-ups, but then the level of risk is there nowadays with any IT job you take.

    The work in small company settings can be satisfying and your work has a better chance of being seen and appreciated, whereas in a big company infrastructure, management might not even have line item task review of accomplishments in your annual review.

    You made the right choice in picking up on the nuances of the interview.

    Best of Luck Caitlyn -- Dietrich

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  23. I can't speak to other companies, but the last three positions I have held (over 15 years) have not had any issues hiring women. Indeed, I have had 4 lead techs that were women and in each case they deserved the job. In the past I have conducted tech interviews and have to say that the male applicants outnumbered the Female applicants by a significant margin. Could management just be passing on applicants based on some sort of affirmative action, sure, but I do not get the feeling that has been the case.

    You through out the 51% as if the same percentage of Females want to be in IT compared to the population at large. I just don't see that. You might be right that we need to do better at welcoming Female's into the ranks, but the ones that are here are damn good. It is also not my observation that Women techs are paid any lower then Male techs (granted, talking about pay is grounds for firing in most companies, but I have discussed pay with members of most of my teams, so think I have a pretty good feel of who is getting paid less then others.)

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  24. This is all so sad. Your sex, race or nationality should not matter. I run IT for small company. I did some work at the local college in recent year so I have exposure to the 60 students that were in first year students at that time. Of the 120 there are 2, one man and one woman who I would be willing to hire to work in my environment.

    My hiring choice would also be practical, when the time comes, I need a part-time employee. I have a relationship with both of these people, the woman lives 5 miles form the job site and only wants to work part time and can quickly lean to do the work here. The man lives further away and is in a position where he needs full time employment.

    Trust me. She is the logical choice for the position and gender, race and nationality has nothing to do with it. Knowing the person and what they are capable of is what matters. Maybe this company needs to start some type of outreach so their employees can be exposed to a wider variety of competent potential IT staff

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  25. So you turned down the job because you thought they would be sexist. Do you really think out of 400 people that all of them are going to be sexist? Also, what difference does the manager make? A manager does not control what they think of you. So why base ANY decision off of him? A poster was correct, your logic seems off. I recognize that women have issues in STEM careers, but you can't make enemies of everyone who doesn't agree with you 100%.

    As for women leaving IT in drives, you are right. Less than 25% stay in IT. That has several possible reasons. First, women may just figure out that they hate IT. We push young women toward STEM careers, without giving them a well rounded view of what life offers. We do this to men too though. I got my first degree in engineering and decided I hated it. Second, women leave the workforce to have families. This is a large portion based on pregnancy rates. Finally, some (any is too many) leave because they are treated poorly. More research needs to be done to determine how many women fall into each category.

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  26. Looking at the logic, I can't see anything wrong with the managers' response (That he'll make sure you have no problems); That seems like the correct choice of wording to me, I think guaranteeing you wouldn't have problems would be setting you up for trouble.

    Unless the company was a very small tight-knit family I think it was wise to work under the assumption that there may be a bad apple, since it only takes one. It's just impossible to know 400 people personally enough to guarantee non-issues; I personally would be uncomfortable walking into a situation where management was working under the assumption everything would be problem-free. Pushing any individual into a crowd of 400 people isn't guaranteed to go smoothly, gender issues aside it's completely possible two people simply might clash for any reason.

    I do question if asking "will my age/sex/race/religion be a problem in your work place?" is an appropriate question to ask; If the employer is interviewing with you in my mind the assumption is already "no". I think the problem most people are having with your article is that you over-analysed the response and made it political when it didn't have to be, it feels like you're brewing a tempest in a teapot. I'm not saying there isn't a larger problem, but in this particular instance I don't believe the response the interviewer gave was unreasonable.

    I can't say I understand the issue from your standpoint - I'm a 'young white male' programmer myself but despite that I'll throw my $0.02 in the pot; If the job is something worth taking, why not consider going back and starting under a 'two week' trial? If you find "Hey, these guys aren't actually that bad" then it's win-win. If it doesn't work out then hey - sometimes the shoe doesn't fit. Why stop before you've even gotten started? :)

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  27. As someone approaching the retirement age (no numbers please), I can empathize with your decision. There are some things I might have done in my youthful naivety, that I might have done some years ago with the knowledge of what I might be up against, that I just don't want to do now. This is a daunting situation you faced. What are the odds in 2014 that 100% of 400 IT people would be male? The most benign thing you might say is that they know there is a problem, they're trying to fix it, but they have wittingly or unwittingly created a huge scare factor.
    And yet, we must say that sooner or later this last (?) vestige of an androgenic workforce will pass. At some point, maybe desirable males will be uncomfortable with a monolithic workforce. Perhaps a large meteor will come down on this company and obliterate its existence, and later its memory. But more likely, there will be the arrival of Nietzsche's √úbermensch in female form who will (seemingly) effortlessly take on this task and turn the company upside down and inside out.
    You just have to have faith in entropy.

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  28. While there is no doubt hostility in some workplace environments, I am mature enough to ignore it. Snide under-the-breath comments don't bother me, outright looks of disapproval don't bother me, being given the sh*t jobs that no one else wants doesn't bother me, being ignored in meetings, having my input disregarded, being passed over for promotions, or raises, none of this bothers me. I have a son.HE matters to me. I would walk through the front gates of Hell for him...so these ignorant, self-centered, RACIST..(yes I'm an African American MALE!) and totally unworthy of my mental contemplation persons who "dominate" the workplace can do JUST that...dominate the WORKPLACE....somewhere that I only WORK in.I'll not let them dominate my home life as well...I'm not there to be liked...to be invited to bar-mitzvahs, to have lunch with my co-workers etc. This doesn't mean I cannot exchange pleasantries with my fellow work associates, but to let ANYTHING that takes place at WORK interfere with my HOME life?...nah, not happening. As for the hostility that may be displayed from my arrival on the job-site till I start my car and go home?..its inconsequential, I love my family and have no time to latch onto other people's perspectives of me. the ONE thing that won't fly is physical violence, I'm a son of a retired Green Beret, and can handle myself...so other than that who really cares what happens at work as long as it's not harming me or my family? And before I'm accused of being ignorant or blissfully stupid. understand I have worked in a library, a cemetary, a hospital, a public park, the U.S. Postal Service, mailrooms, and even a sewage industrial company......ever seen how they clean the sewer pipes that are the sice of a city bus? you go INSIDE the pipe with a pressure washer, wearing one of those "bio-hazard" suits and spray the ceilings and walls of the inside...while ...lets call it...."muck" drops all around you...on your visor...on your suit...etc. SO the "hostility" in some nice air-conditioned corporate campus office?...I repeat: INCONSEQUENTIAL.

    Nuff Said.

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    Replies
    1. If you want to put up with crap you shouldn't have to put up with that is your choice. What is inconsequential to you isn't inconsequential to other people, and discrimination really should NEVER be just tolerated.

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  29. Did you hear from the german #aufschrei in Twitter? I'm in IT since about 1988, coming from physics and fought for my ideas for a long time, but i've given up - as male your words are clever, as female in the best case a student

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  30. As a career long technology worker and hiring manager I agree with you that the sexism issue has gotten worse in the past 15 years. I am currently a manager in Healthcare IT and we have parity in men/women ratios. But I do realize that my experience is very abnormal in the general IT field.

    My personal belief is that cultural pressures and cultural changes have actually lessened the respect that men in general have for women. I was raised to respect and even honor women in society but today's culture seems to hold up quite the opposite standard for men. I am appalled and embarrassed to see how men relate to women these days.

    I do not know what the solution is but we must continue to try to modify behavior and set the example for acceptable behavior. I would be proud to work with you in any IT environment. Keep up the fight and keep shining the light on problem areas.

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  31. You are a brave soul, thank you for posting this. Many will continue to deny there's a problem in the industry but it's not hard to see for anyone who has eyes and ears.

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