[FoRK] Harley & Google's battle of the sexes

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Thu Aug 10 12:22:57 PDT 2017

Absolutely: The difference between a male and a female developer is tiny compared to the difference between a developer and a 
not-developer.  And that graph illustrates the confusion of misusing distributions as a source of bias.

Pay inequity has many causes.  Some of them are not directly group based, although groups that may feel or be secondary in some way 
may fall into some of them naturally.  I can see good points on both sides, but I tend to agree that in some cases we ought to work 
to prevent some of this.

For instance: I've benefited from taking many risks, leaving many comfortable jobs to grow, expand, and advance.  I wouldn't be 
surprised to find that many coworkers I left behind stayed put at not much more than they were making then.  You could argue that 
there's nothing sexist about that since most of those people were male.  It's more a personality trait, although the likelihood of 
arriving at that trait seems often likely higher for males.  You might argue that there are sexist / racist / *ist forces that would 
bat down or otherwise tend to discourage someone who doesn't look like me.  You could similarly argue that most females have exit 
paths that males don't.  But for any particular person, it would be hard to tell whether they would have been a consistent grower & 
risk taker had they not had life experiences, specific bias, and the presence or absence of certain options that taught them to take 
a more conservative approach.

I will always negotiate harder and be willing to walk away, knowing I have many options nearly everywhere.  That creates a bias that 
is partially deserved and partially not; I wouldn't argue that the latter should disadvantage me, but I don't mind trying to help 
others to be more competitive or otherwise prevent them from being taken advantage of too much.

Practically speaking, some businesses live or die on thin margins directly dominated by human capital costs.  Others are have plenty 
of room to develop a healthy long-term system and environment. Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and others are in that latter 
group: There is no excuse for failing on equal pay, allowing more than a noise level of bias, and letting any part of the workforce 
suffer under an unexamined Lord of the Flies dynamic.  The media scrutiny is well-deserved, even if some of the conclusions and 
strategies might not be applicable to all other situations.  Like the US vs. the world, California & New York vs. flyover country 
(where I grew up), well-established tech companies have no excuse for not solving this as well as can be solved.

Everyone has biases.  You like to be around people who are pleasant in one or more ways.  After evaluating the important 
characteristics, those can be tie-breakers.  In a rich enough or murky enough field or market, people can tend to give too much 
weight to those mostly non-functional attributes.  That's the mistake the financial / business / political people often seem to 
make.  Understandable to a certain extent.  It's far less of a fundamental problem for tech.


On 8/10/17 10:01 AM, Lorin Rivers wrote:
> There’s way more difference between any two individuals than there is between any groups they might belong to.
> There is a very strong male bias in engineering and I think that’s something best addressed from the bottom up—as a society, we need to figure out why this is so, earlier, and do what we can to encourage more diversity in the people who choose to do this sort of work.
> Blunt-force hiring quotas are silly, but there’s more to an employee and what they offer a team than some sub-set of their skills might imply.
> The pay inequality issue between men and women across the economy (comparing roughly equivalent jobs and responsibilities) is not based on performance, but on implicit bias and it’s self-perpetuating. That’s something else that needs to be addressed, and not in a stupid way, but figuring out the root cause.
> PS: as a motorcyclist, I wish there were more lady motorcyclists and I for one would welcome more diversity in that community as well.
>> On Aug 10, 2017, at 11:50 AM, Gregory Alan Bolcer <greg at bolcer.org> wrote:
>> Okay, blind hiring on talent, but how do you test and on what criteria? Ability to deliver?  Creative potential?  People skills?  Test taking or interview skills?  In referencing pseudo-science, they say people who are mostly likely to be good at interviewing are also most likely good at being sociopaths.
>> What about double blind?  Wouldn't that be more scientific?  I think you've just invented the next hiring process.
>> Anyways, if FoRK will let attachments through, this is the picture that he included in his screed.  I think he has a point (not in the Unabomber "we need to compassionately understand his lunacy" way so we can make TV shows about it, but in a generalization vs average singularity way).
>> Greg

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