On FoRK's anti-206 stance

Rohit Khare (rohit@bordeaux.ics.uci.edu)
Thu, 09 Apr 1998 05:33:03 -0700

> On Wed, 8 Apr 1998, CobraBoy wrote:
> > Janie, welcome to FoRK! We appreciate your post.
> You would never posted this had Janie not identified herself as
> female.

You're doubly right, Elwood, because 1) it's Tim's job as bouncer to actually
fool the new filk into thinking he's nice at first and 2) yes, there IS an
affirmative action program in effect.

Not affirmative as in "covering up" -- our fine Diva got her due from Dr. Thau
for forwarding Old Bits (TM). After all, we are speaking of violating the
First, Second, Third, and Seventh Commandments in a single post!

[Though cast not the first stone, Elwood: Eight, Nine, and Ten are all
endangered in your own comebacks. And no whining about my One -- everyone on
the planet is obliged to know California's hot-button social issues by Prop #]

Rather, affirmative as in taking a stand: it is wrong that the infrastructure
for the next generation of wealth-creation is taking place without women and
minorities. Daniel Veillard can argue correctly that IP has no gender, but
he's still wrong to see no wrong in the gender bias of computer science. As a
profession, we have been sliding *backwards* in the last decade, patting
ourselves on the back for what a balanced industry we've produced when you
think about content providers, marketing, production, and the rest. Power too
rarely is in the hands of women.

Lisadu may be in her element, but sometimes even the elements are wrong. She
was one of fourteen; the week before in my hotel room, the Indian was one in
11; so was the gay man. For diety's sake, IETF is an organization that in its
*own* April Fool's self-parodies cite a 60% facial hair prevalence rate as
characteristic! At least IETF isn't as monochromatic as the bodies where other
real decisions get made... try finding a balding white fifty something male at
the RSA Data Security Conference.

Color and gender do not *qualify* anyone to sit in judgment, moral or
technical -- but they can, and all too often do, *disqualify* people in a
thousand and one subtle ways. If you've got an ego the size of a Mack truck,
fuck'em all, you can wear flourescent orange and barge right in and take no
gruff from anyone at all about being who you are ans sticking to your
opinions. One iota less, it seems, though, and if you're not a public speaker,
you won't get to hone your skills speaking; if your're not an assertive first
author, you won't rise past second; if you're not greedy expense-account
padding member of the gang, you'll get left behind; and if you didn't laugh at
their joke, they won't laugh at yours.

Me? I'm not bitter. I've never felt too put upon. Frankly, I haven't even
heard complaints from too many other women or minorities. Yet, I see myself
doing it -- and my faith in human nature is that we all do sometimes. I was
hiring student interns, and I knew pitching the idea was as important as
implementing it -- what am I to make of the Indian fellow with Tourette's, the
soft-spoken Taiwanese boy, or the iffy chirpy girl? I took them all on and
tried my best. They succeed to varying degrees, perhaps even reinforcing the
patterns I feared, but not because I didn't lay down the rules (ya gotta write
and ya gotta talk) and make myself available.

I'll even cop to reverse discrimination -- I'm a harsher judge of native
accents (Indian, Chinese, English, whatever) than many of my other American
peers. I'm a ethnocentrist bastard, since I expect higher academic standards
from Indians. In fact, that's the one bias I'll even admit got in the way of
my career: a suspicion that *I* was the victim of precisely such arbitrarily
raised standards.

Now Sara, fewer of these comments might apply directly to your field, but I
believe their effects spill over into why FoRK has a 6x higher female
subscriber churn than male. It's a male-ish smorgasbord of topics with a very
male quest for dominance. I'd like it to be less so. Pitch in -- and please
feel free to pitch in more Canadian-supporting flames and take on the Master
Beta Males on their own terms.

But Obey Mine Commandments, For I Am A Cruel God Only So Amused By My Subjects