amazonv: (Default)
[personal profile] amazonv

A summary on findings on why females leave jobs in IT and how to decrease this phenomenon.

Please note I speak for myself. I do not speak for my employer, my former employer, my future employers, I am a human being not a mascot.

For more on the subject of MTAMO (my tweets are my own) see the lovely @snipeyhead's

Please note all quotes without a source are things that have been said to me directly. Also note, not all females have this same negative experience in IT, I know a few who have never felt gender bias at work. I feel based on the numbers that there is still an issue and wish to discuss it.


Explain the research and my personal experiences around the sometime unintentional hostile workplace. Contributing factors: male privilege, implicit bias, sexism / gender discrimination, stereotype threat.

Off Topic:

Acknowledge there is a pipeline issue of the number of females entering the IT industry – this can be an entire talk on its' own and so we will set this aside as a separate item.

Yes there is sexism and discrimination against men and many other groups. The existence of one issue does not invalidate or equal out another. Both are issues to be addressed and remedied.

Everyone is biased
I am biased as a white female living in the US
Please note this talk refers to men and women in the generic whole, yes there will be many exceptions to every rule, and yes it is amusing to use generalizations in a talk that recommends resisting stereotypes.

Yes I am sexist, I try to be cognizant of when I am, and i often use t to my advantage. It's easier for me to find a date at a gaming convention (my usual is ORIGINS) than most men because i am the scarce resource. I try not to let stereotypes and sexism influence my work however.

I don't believe I can change the world, but I hope to start a conversation.


High-tech companies in particular lost 41 percent of their female employees, compared with only 17 percent of their male employees.

52% of women in the STEM fields—Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths—switch industries due to the hostile, macho cultures and isolation they face in STEM

The culmination of sexism, gender discrimination, implicit bias, stereotype threat, and male privilege, etc results in discomfort at work for many. I believe these all come together, with other factors to form the hostile, macho cultures and isolation causing women to leave the IT field. I do not believe that this is normally conscious or on purpose. Please note that just because you don't see it, and don't believe you contribute doesn't mean it's not happening/real - after this perhaps take a good look and listen around your work.

Let's start with a brief story

During a talk called "Rethinking Best Practices in Java EE 6" at JavaOne 2011, speaker Adam Bien showed a slide titled "Explain to an alien" (i.e. explain your project to someone who doesn't understand any of the context). He said "My first version of this was 'Explain it to a woman' but I got lots of criticism at the conferences (big laugh from the audience) and one talk was almost cancelled.. (more laughing) So I think “Explain it to an alien" is better.”

A female audience member asked him in the Q&A to apologize for the joke, and he did, but added "I was thinking of people who don't understand IT... My wife doesn't understand IT." In person and on Google+, male audience members complained to the woman who asked for the apology that she should "relax" and had made them "supremely uncomfortable."
I am going to invoke a well written paragraph from a blog post from Carrie Patrick that concluded like this:

"By expressing an opinion that a joke about me was perhaps a little insulting to me, I have become that worst of all creatures, a woman with an opinion on the internet, otherwise known as a humorless bitch who needs to get a grip. I have a total lack of irony. I should settle down. I should relax. I should realize that people who were not the target of the joke have a much better right than me to decide whether I should be annoyed by it, and in fact, that they were the ones who should be offended, if anyone."
Sexism / Gender Discrimination

Everyone acknowledges sexism is bad, gender stereotyping is bad. Yet we see it every day in society and the media, and few people bother to speak up “because that's the way it is” “they don't mean it that way” this causes a problem that once something is present frequently it becomes normal, unremarkable, and quietly accepted. This perpetuates the action in the majority.

So please, look, listen, and speak up.

Some personal examples:

I pickup the phone and customers want to talk to a tech when I've already introduced myself as a windows admin, what they mean is they wish to speak to a male.

The need to comment: "I've never met a girl DBA before" "I've never met a competent female admin before" "when are you going to get married, have babies and leave us"

I gain the modifier "FEMALE" to my nerdiness, the my geekiness, to my hacking interest, to working in IT as a system administrator.

Must I get called out for being female? Is that a required modifier?

Would you ignore or find it acceptable if I was called out for being a different race?
"That's impressive for a black man"?

Implicit bias / schema
Most people associate science and math fields with “male” and humanities and arts fields with
“female,” according to research examined in this report. Implicit bias is common, even among
individuals who actively reject these stereotypes. This bias not only affects individuals’ attitudes toward others but may also influence girls’ and women’s likelihood of cultivating their own interest in math and science. Taking the implicit bias test at
can help people identify and understand their biases so that they can work to compensate
for them.

Banaji points out that unconscious beliefs, once they are brought to the fore, can be changed
if the holder of the belief so desires: “Implicit biases come from the culture. I think of them
as the thumbprint of the culture on our minds. Human beings have the ability to learn to
associate two things together very quickly—that is innate. What we teach ourselves, what we
choose to associate is up to us.”



psychological schema - a rule of thumb your brain uses to process the world, makes things easier but, is this something you have systematically proven by talking to women at hacking events or is it anecdotal, things you have heard or seen one or two of and then had source amnesia?

Yes we all need to make assumptions, use schema in order to function in this world. They result in implicit bias. But by thinking about and recognizing this you can actually change your own behavior and default assumptions over time.


Studies show I have to prove myself competent instead of the assumption I am competent affording myself the opportunity to prove I am exceptional. This influences my annual reviews and possibly bonuses, raises and promotions.

I am seen as less intelligent automatically, I must fight to prove that I am just as smart and competent. For this I am lauded for being a smart girl, not smart, a smart girl, as opposed to the new guy who gets to prove his stupidity and starts with no modifier.

Every time I hear "wow you knew that" in a shocked voice, it hurts because of similarly skilled males hired around the same time are assume to have known it.

So, I show up to a hacking event (BSIDESLV), in a chainmaille bikini

I get politely approached and basically questioned as if I am con-wife / arm candy, and told that since I like role playing games I ought to fit in.

"because you were dressed like arm candy"

Yes I am dressed in a hot / nerdy way

Why does being hot/nerdy prevent me from being at an event for the event?

OK, let's just let the whole women as objects misogyny go...


So I show up to a hacking event, in jeans and a t-shirt (HOPE, DEFCON)

I get asked who I am there with.

Or, the man I am speaking with gets the technical questions addressed to him. He is my date, he is the non technical con-boy. He must explain this to everyone we speak with, hacking questions go to HER.

I am not dressed sexy, yet I am still a female first.


"It is the hacking cons! There are not enough females. We don't know how to behave!"
“because so many gold diggers show”


I go to purchase my first new car, my fiance is there in order to drive the rental to be returned. I am the one who came for the test drive. I have to repeatedly ask them to speak with me. Their attention, information, conversation, and questions are posed AT HIM. I am paying, I am signing the paperwork, I researched and test drove this car!


Comparatively, a guy shows up to a hacking event
dressed goth, jeans t-shirt, suit tie, punk, leather...

one might make inferences about that man
"slacker kid" "the man" "fed" "straight" "gay"

but one don't assume he isn't there for the con, one don't assume he is looking for a date or is someone's date

seeing the difference?

What about seeing a pretty girl and instantly assuming one need to break down everything technical. one would probably ask a guy his tech level when one went to explain something to him.

one don't think "oh that guy is attractive, he must be dumb" but it is ok to assume a hot girl will not be intelligent?

Stereotype threat / Male Privilege
Stereotype threat is the experience of anxiety or concern in a situation where a person has the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about their social group.[1] First described by social psychologist Claude Steele and his colleagues, stereotype threat has been shown to reduce the performance of individuals who belong to negatively stereotyped groups.

Before discussing “male privilege” it is first important to define what privilege means in an anti-oppression setting. Privilege, at its core, is the advantages that people benefit from based solely on their social status. It is a status that is conferred by society to certain groups, not seized by individuals, which is why it can be difficult sometimes to see one’s own privilege.

In a nutshell:

Privilege is: About how society accommodates you. It’s about advantages you have that you think are normal. It’s about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It’s about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf.


Privilege is about not thinking about how your actions and opinions don’t give non-privileged people equal weight to those of privileged groups. Even in cases, like this one, where the issue is one that primarily affects the non-privileged group.
Let me reiterate
this is not on purpose
this is not consciously

(white) men get to stand individually
their actions don't affect the schema held for their race or gender
the failure of one of us is held against us all

They do not receive white or male as a descriptor because it is assumed being white and male are the default

Men are assumed to be better at math and computers – which is not proven true by aptitude tests in schools

I'm an object representing female geek stereotype

I am not me

It hurts me, it's insulting

in a nerd/geek/it culture where individualism is praised and lauded

i don't care if someone think i am hot, sexy, smart

i care what those qualifiers, in someone brain, modify me as to someone because of my gender
-1 intelligence
-1 competent
-likely to want to spend time with family and not put in 100% at work

by thinking before someone act or talk, is the phrase "for a woman" in there - rethink it, and encouraging others to do the same

could we push less females out of technical jobs

by making it comfortable to be there

because assuming girls as less intelligent is no longer the norm, describing every action a female does with a female modifier, by attempting to be objective in evaluating skills and attempting t think before speaking. This changes your implicit bias, this changes your schema, this changes what is accepted as normal and perpetuated in the work place.

That would make it a nicer place to be.

I don't expect miracles or things to change over nigh, but schemas and bias can change by people talking, discussing and thinking about them. I hope have started you thinking about this one.

think of it as the matrix, the rules change once you know the system is there.

One thing I want to just make a note of before I end

Being a female, and presenting about sexism will result in the normal internet response; I am either fat, ugly, stupid, or a slut. Else, i am a raging feminatzi crusader who spends all day raging about gender roles.

not that any of that has to do with my argument

Honestly, until about October or November of 2011 i just was annoyed frequently, and couldn't put a finger on it. Then a few articles struck cords with me, along the time i had quit my job in IT and picked another job in IT. I was beginning to think IT wasn't for me. Then i started to wonder if it wasn't IT itself, but the atmosphere of IT.

I am slightly afraid to give this speech, there are plenty of girl bloggers who do not disclose they are female, or who carefully moderate what they say online to avoid retaliation. the retaliation tends to be intense, and frightening with threats of rape and harm against the speaker and their family.

I'll leave you with these thoughts; I do not censor myself, I was raised by a blunt and intelligent mother and a kind and loving mr mom. I think I have them to thank that I loved legos, I had a computer back when they were ever do expensive (I had two floppy drives!), and they allowed me to build my own second PC later when I outgrew the first. I am usually glad to be female, I am not fat, nor ugly. As for my sexual history...yes it is online for everyone to see so I expect to hear about it I just don't understand why anyone other than me cares about it.

for those claiming that's because women are thin skinned and males receive equal trollish response please read these when you can


Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.


amazonv: (Default)

October 2017

89 1011121314

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 18th, 2017 05:47 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios