Discussing sexism in geek communities is more important than discussing gender imbalance.

Some female geeks use the discourse of increasing female representation in science, technology, engineering, and math (the “STEM” fields) as a proxy for addressing sexism in geek communities. Because countering sexism against women does not directly benefit men, some women reframe the issue of sexism by appealing to capitalist values. They argue that if women are better represented in STEM fields, it would lead to economic growth and technological innovation (and that this can be achieved through efforts to reduce gender bias).

However, this strategy backfires when male geeks interpret the movement to increase female representation in STEM fields as “social engineering”, i.e., feminists forcing women to do what we purportedly “dislike” (science, tech, engineering, and math). The subtext of this movement—which is that female geeks who love STEM topics have to endure sexism from male geeks or get out, and this is a Bad ThingTM that needs to be fixed—is lost entirely.

Observe this Digg comment on the Bias Called Persistent Hurdle for Women in Sciences submission:

''There is nothing more miserable than a career that you don't really enjoy. But don't let that stop feminists from pushing other women into jobs they won't like. They have an agenda and ***** up someone else's life is not a consideration.'' (+10)

Observe also this Hacker News comment on the report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics:

''Yeah, though my impression is that the current focus is mostly on the good-for-society angle: that it would be better for society if STEM fields as a whole were more gender-balanced, even if not necessarily better for the women actually in  those STEM fields. This is a rather different argument than the more traditional one, that gender-bias/etc. is standing in the way of women who want to go into STEM careers but find themselves blocked. The focus these days seems to be more on women who /don't/ want to go into STEM careers, to figure out why and how we can change that, which is more of a focus on social-engineering/good-for-society outcomes, as opposed to the more traditional feminist focus on personal autonomy / right to pursue your career of choice.'' (2 points)

Ironically, when some female geeks use the capitalist discourse of increasing female representation in STEM fields as a structural strategy for reducing sexism and improving our personal autonomy / right to pursue our career of choice, many male geeks misunderstand these efforts as being anti-choice. While direct condemnations of sexism within geek communities may be met with denial and defensiveness, at least such a strategy centres on benefitting female geeks instead of benefitting male geeks. Appealing to the capitalist discourse when one wants to discuss structural inequalities may reinforce social norms that value the majority and privileged over the minority and marginalized. In this case, appealing to the capitalist discourse would reinforce the idea that women are valuable only if men benefit from it, instead advancing the idea that women are valuable because we are people too.


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44 Responses to “Discussing sexism in geek communities is more important than discussing gender imbalance.”

  1. A.Y. Siu Says:

    I totally get where you’re coming from, but ideally it’s not an either/or situation. The two are linked. Sexism in geek communities leads to exacerbated gender imbalances. And extreme gender imbalance in geek communities leaves fertile ground for sexism to continue.

    In order to fix the problem, you have to combat it on both fronts: 1) call geeks out on their sexist remarks and attitudes and 2) encourage women to go into more “geeky” professions.

  2. urbia Says:

    This kind of reminds me of the time I was told by HR something along the lines of, “Don’t worry, soon there will be more women in this field/company and the sexism will gradually go away, but for now, keep your head down.”

    Not good enough.

  3. Sandy Says:

    Thank you for writing about this. I actually have geek, female friends in STEM occupations and none of them have EVER said things like, “I’m only in the field because it’s a ‘feminist’ thing!” They actually went into the field because they had a PASSION for it and they are damn good at their careers, too!

    However, I’ve heard that same argument put forward one too many times as well (particularly during “recession times”) – “Just hire women! Seriously! They will improve your companies’ performance! They won’t screw up like the men did!” And then it makes me wonder if they are trying to appeal to essentialist ideas about women (women are so creative, women are not irrational, risk-takers, etc. etc.) to try to push more women into male-dominated fields. Like you, I believe this is the wrong strategy to use. While gender imbalance is an important issue to pursue, to do so by claiming women have a “special touch” that men don’t is opening up a whole new can of worms. :/

  4. Restructure! Says:

    A.Y. Siu,

    2) encourage women to go into more “geeky” professions.

    I cannot in good conscience do this, because of the sexism in certain male-dominated industries. For example, I wouldn’t encourage my little cousin to do it, when I am aware of the sexism, because I am protective of her.

    (Note to undergrads in geek majors: It’s different after you graduate.)

  5. Hmmmm Says:

    So where were you 20 years ago? When we nerds were bullied, harassed and ostracized? I would say this follows the usual feminist agenda, let men take all the blows, let men make the field safe, let men establish everything. Then bitch and moan about how women are excluded. I never saw Sarah Jobs, I never saw Wilma Gates, I never saw Sacha Brin.

  6. Restructure! Says:

    So where were you 20 years ago? When we nerds were bullied, harassed and ostracized?

    I was a nerd being bullied, harassed, and ostracized, asshole.

    edit: Wait, 20 years ago I was a bit too young. Maybe you are confusing me with someone else.

  7. Hmmmm Says:


    I was a nerd being bullied, harassed, and ostracized, asshole.
    edit: Wait, 20 years ago I was a bit too young. Maybe you are confusing me with someone else.”

    Ahhhh, so you were and is not part of the feminist elite who complement themselves on beeing so inclusive and tolerant, while at the same time having no problem dishing out insults about nerdy white men, and jokes about nerds’ inability to find a sexual partner?

    That’s good to know, because I have seen quite a lot of these feminists.

  8. Hmmmm Says:

    Oh wait, You had no problem linking to heartless-bitches international. I was wrong. So congrats on you for beeing a hypocrite.

  9. Restructure! Says:

    I linked to HBI because as far as I know, that is the earliest/original text on the definition of Nice GuyTM. I don’t agree with the idea that nice means boring, since that is more about her personal preference, since she prefers people who are similar to herself, but I agree with the general characterization of Nice GuyTM.

  10. Hmmmm Says:

    Then I assume you have also read their attempts at humor when discusing genotypes of personality traits.

  11. Restructure! Says:

    Yes. I don’t know what the point of that was, though.

  12. Hmmmm Says:

    That is a demonstration of exactly what I mean by feminists like yourself complementing each other on how inclusive and non-elitist you are, while at the same time having no problem with making derogatory comments about males and subgroups of males.

    My suggestion is simple. Start telling it straight. The world isn’t fair. It will never be fair, but it’s not more unfair to women than it is to men.

  13. Restructure! Says:

    What are you talking about? Just because I linked to a definition of Nice GuyTM that I agree with and believe to be the origin, it doesn’t mean that I support all articles written by that person or other articles submitted by guests that appear on that site. But you think of women as having some kind of hive mind, so I’m not surprised.

  14. Hmmmm Says:

    No I am generalizing from my observations on quite a lot of feminists.

    They are all complementing themselves on how inclusive and accepting they are. But it doesn’t last long before they break out the ‘what about the menz’ shaming tactic when their world view is challenged.

    You just did the same, you have no problem talking about structures among male nerds, but as soon as someone starts talking about structures among feminists and women, then every woman is an individual.

  15. Restructure! Says:

    A.Y. Siu,

    Don’t mention the war (Geek Feminism):

    There are women, quite a few in fact, in technology careers who suggest other women don’t enter them. They usually find this is a unpopular opinion in the harming the community direction. Often some of their major critics are other women, especially women who are running recruitment and outreach for the field. The argument generally goes like this: the major thing that will fix sexism in this field is more women! So if we stay silent and take the sexism bad with the geeky good for long enough, sexism will solve itself. By encouraging women to stay out, you are basically furthering sexism in this field. QED.

    Let’s pick this apart.

  16. After All Says:

    @ Hmmmm,
    Just because the author of this blog linked to Heartless Bitches doesn’t mean she thinks that men aren’t individuals, and it doesn’t mean she agrees with everything they’ve ever said on that blog. It’s a convenient way to explain to someone what a “nice guy” is, since it’s easy to know there’s a problem with that pattern of behavior, but hard to actually set a definition for when the line is crossed.

    The idea of the “nice guy” doesn’t mean those guys aren’t individuals. It’s a trait. They all have different personalities, talents, and hobbies– and all the rest of the things out there that make people unique. They are unique people with a common pattern in their interactions with women: that they treat women they’re interested in as a prize to be won, judge the worth of women by their attractiveness, and they feel their right to have a relationship trumps a woman’s right to not want to be in a relationship with them. “Nice guy” is not really a good term because it’s not really about being nice, it’s about feeling entitled. The problem with “nice guys” isn’t about men vs. women, it’s about feeling entitled to a certain kind of relationship with another person. It’s about thinking that someone is a completely different class of human being because of their gender.

    And I can’t speak for the blog writer lady, but that’s pretty much what my breed of feminism is about. Women are people. Men are people. Yes, gender is an important part of who we are, but there’s a lot more to people than just that. And women geeks in the workplace? Should be viewed in the context of their job, not of their gender. The fact that they have to deal with so much sexism in the workplace is completely unfair.

  17. Hairy-legged bra-burning linkspam (17th June, 2010) | Geek Feminism Blog Says:

    [...] Discussing sexism in geek communities is more important than discussing gender imbalance: Restructure! writes Ironically, when some female geeks use the capitalist discourse of increasing female representation in STEM fields as a structural strategy for reducing sexism and improving our personal autonomy / right to pursue our career of choice, many male geeks misunderstand these efforts as being anti-choice. [...]

  18. A.Y. Siu Says:

    I don’t know why people are responding to only my second suggestion.

    The whole point of my comment was that selecting only one strategy makes no sense and is the result of an artificial and false dichotomy.

    You don’t only encourage women to go into “geeky” professions. And you don’t only battle existing sexism in “geeky” professions. You do both.

  19. Jayn Says:

    I was a nerd being bullied, harassed, and ostracized, asshole.

    edit: Wait, 20 years ago I was a bit too young. Maybe you are confusing me with someone else

    Personally, I was probably at home, in front of the TV, playing Tetris on my NES. I think I was asking for a system before I was old enough to read (I certainly couldn’t read well at that time)

  20. Katherine Says:

    Divide and conquer, as per usual. The feminism I’ve encountered has primarily been about banding together to respect people as individuals, no matter their gender, race, etc. If you want to posit that “geeky men” are also underprivileged (I wouldn’t challenge it that much), perhaps you should consider that geeky women might have it worse. Perhaps you might consider that if geeky women weren’t ostracised and harassed by geeky men that we might have been able to bind together to fight criticism of all geeks from outside sources.

    Geeky women didn’t just suddenly spring into existence a year ago full formed, you know.

  21. Katherine Says:

    Divide and conquer, as per usual. The feminism I’ve encountered has primarily been about banding together to respect people as individuals, no matter their gender, race, etc. If you want to posit that “geeky men” are also underprivileged (I wouldn’t challenge it that much), perhaps you should consider that geeky women might have it worse. Perhaps you might consider that if geeky women weren’t ostracised and harassed by geeky men that we might have been able to bind together to fight criticism of all geeks from outside sources.

    Geeky women didn’t just suddenly spring into existence a year ago full formed, you know. Perhaps we should ask you where you were 50 years ago when women were fighting to be included in the workforce properly rather than just as typists/secretaries etc.

  22. Oh Really Says:

    Katherine

    Most feminists I have encountered has had no problem telling jokes along the line of ‘I am not an engineer since I don’t spend all my spare time in my basement with my porn collection’ or ‘This has to be the product of a nerdy white man who’s only experience with women were .avi files’. So, I ask, what will come out of this movement for men? If you want to fight for women fine, but don’t pretend men will benefit from this.

  23. Restructure! Says:

    Oh Really,

    How do you know those women were feminists? The definition of a “feminist” is not “a woman who talks back” or “an aggressive woman”.

  24. Oh Really Says:

    They were very outspoken feminists yes. Talking a lot about people such as Butler and Greer.

  25. Oh Really Says:

    Oh, and I am still wondering. What will come out of this for men?
    Will this movement make it any easier to be a male engineer? The only thing I have seen so far is that this movement wants to add even more pressure and guilt. First I am to take ridicule from the public, and then I am to take lamentations from feminists about the community not being accepting enough of women.

  26. Restructure! Says:

    Oh Really,

    Something doesn’t have to “benefit men” for it to be important. To think otherwise is to think that men are more important than women.

    It is not my experience that feminists spend their time insulting “nerdy white men”. I do think geeks face prejudice, but by “geeks”, I mean female geeks and male geeks, not what you would think of as geeks (male).

    First I am to take ridicule from the public, and then I am to take lamentations from feminists about the community not being accepting enough of women.

    What does one have to do with the other? Your problem is your sexism. You believe that John Q. Public is female and you’re confusing anti-geek sentiment with feminism.

  27. Oh Really Says:

    “Something doesn’t have to “benefit men” for it to be important. To think otherwise is to think that men are more important than women.”

    And I refer to my previous statement.

    “If you want to fight for women fine, but don’t pretend men will benefit from this.”
    Tell it straight then, you are fighting for women. Anything beneficial to men will be a pure coincidence.

    “It is not my experience that feminists spend their time insulting “nerdy white men”. I do think geeks face prejudice, but by “geeks”, I mean female geeks and male geeks, not what you would think of as geeks (male).”

    Ok, so not only are you ignoring my experiences, you are also telling me that I am sexist for feeling insulted when I face statements such as ‘I am not an engineer since I don’t spend all my free time in a basement with my porn collection’.

    “What does one have to do with the other? Your problem is your sexism. You believe that John Q. Public is female and you’re confusing anti-geek sentiment with feminism.”

    No I am not. Once again, I refer to earlier posts.
    “Perhaps you might consider that if geeky women weren’t ostracised and harassed by geeky men that we might have been able to bind together to fight criticism of all geeks from outside sources.” Somehow if the (male) geek community started being more inclusive to women, then these women would magically start to fight against harassment from the public. Well, I can draw another parallell here. In the times of prop 8 I was a very vocal supporter of same sex marriage, I used to tell my male friends, that if we as straight males don’t get irresistible urges to have intercourse with random women we find attractive even if we share a shower with them, then why would a homosexual man do that if he shared a shower with a man?
    You know what I got from this? Nothing, I still keep hearing about how I as a heterosexual male feel my sexuality threatened by homosexuals and that is why I am so homophobic.

    My simple suggestion to Katherine is to place her money where her mouth is. Start by telling off her feminist associates, that the kind of language they are using is unacceptable, this is something that will strengthen my belief in her statement that feminists will start fighting alongside us.

  28. Lisa Harney Says:

    Oh really,

    You’re talking about how the rest of the world treats geeks and geek culture. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how this is relevant to the fact that sexism is so rampant in geek culture that geek women are effectively discouraged from participation in everything from gaming to careers.

    And this:

    Somehow if the (male) geek community started being more inclusive to women, then these women would magically start to fight against harassment from the public.

    I think you’re confused. Women are already part of the geek community. What you’re saying here is that the price of ending sexism in the geek community is for all women to fight public ridicule of geek culture because you see it as public ridicule of geek men. In other words, it seems you want all women (especially these notional feminist women you keep talking about) to comply with your needs before you’ll treat sexism in the geek community as a problem. You’re making your acceptance of my presence (or Restructure’s presence, or Katherine’s presence) in geek culture about the behavior of women outside geek culture. That’s pretty sexist right there.

    I can’t speak for Katherine, but given that enough of my experiences among geeky men is negative, I’m not going to spend my energy exhorting other women to be nicer to you when the best I can expect from geeky men in general is sexualizing comments or accusations that I’m too emotional and not rational enough to discuss the matters they find interesting.

    I also think your language in talking about men being more inclusive is telling. The truth is that men are frequently exclusionary toward women – actively pushing us out, attacking us for getting involved in your hobbies or careers, or deliberately filling the air with sexist jokes when the topic of women comes up at all, and leaving no room or oxygen for women to participate.

    The fact is that there are already women who are geeks. We don’t need your permission for that. Unfortunately, many guys are so unpleasant to deal with that we simply stop dealing with them, and we end up isolated from geek culture because of its male-dominated sexism. Or if we speak up, we get derided for our feminism, told our concerns aren’t important, told that men’s needs override ours, told that we have to spend our energies as men demand in order to get acceptance that will never come – because if you were interested in acceptance, you wouldn’t demand a price of admission.

  29. Oh Really Says:

    @Lisa Harney

    Fine then, fight your fight. But don’t use that self-delusional jargon of fighting for all, you fight for women, period.

  30. Restructure! Says:

    Oh Really,

    Tell it straight then, you are fighting for women. Anything beneficial to men will be a pure coincidence.

    Are you addressing me? If yes, that was said in the original post: “appealing to the capitalist discourse would reinforce the idea that women are valuable only if men benefit from it, instead advancing the idea that women are valuable because we are people too.”

    Ok, so not only are you ignoring my experiences, you are also telling me that I am sexist for feeling insulted when I face statements such as ‘I am not an engineer since I don’t spend all my free time in a basement with my porn collection’.

    I am not ignoring your experiences. It’s just that I do not think you are the final arbitrator of how “most feminists” are like, and I am offering my experiences to widen the perspective.

    Now ‘I am not an engineer since I don’t spend all my free time in a basement with my porn collection’ is offensive to female geeks and sexist, since it suggests that all engineers are men, or that female engineers are actually men. However, as Lisa Harney mentioned, you perceive women to be outside the geek community, that the insult only affects male geeks, and that female geeks should be “allies” against anti-geek insults before sexism is addressed. Just like how some white feminists believe that women of colour are “allies” to women, as a male geek, you believe that female geeks are “allies” to geeks. Women of colour are women. Female geeks are geeks. Female geeks are not in a privileged position to be taken more seriously by female non-geeks. You might think so only if you do not think of female geeks as geeks.

    Well, I can draw another parallell here. In the times of prop 8 I was a very vocal supporter of same sex marriage, I used to tell my male friends, that if we as straight males don’t get irresistible urges to have intercourse with random women we find attractive even if we share a shower with them, then why would a homosexual man do that if he shared a shower with a man?
    You know what I got from this? Nothing, I still keep hearing about how I as a heterosexual male feel my sexuality threatened by homosexuals and that is why I am so homophobic.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about here. Is it that you bring up anal rape shower scenarios when the topic is same sex marriage, and then people accuse you of being homophobic, and you wonder why?

  31. Oh Really Says:

    “Are you addressing me? If yes, that was said in the original post: “appealing to the capitalist discourse would reinforce the idea that women are valuable only if men benefit from it, instead advancing the idea that women are valuable because we are people too.”

    I once again refer to earlier post.

    “Perhaps you might consider that if geeky women weren’t ostracised and harassed by geeky men that we might have been able to bind together to fight criticism of all geeks from outside sources. ”

    Do you notice the last statement?
    “… we might have been able to bind together to fight criticism of all geeks from outside sources.” should read, of all female geeks from outside sources.

    “I am not ignoring your experiences. It’s just that I do not think you are the final arbitrator of how “most feminists” are like, and I am offering my experiences to widen the perspective.”

    Yes, and in my environment women are welcomed and treated as equals. But this experience apparently is triumphed by your experience. So I would say you are taking the privilege of final arbiter.

    “However, as Lisa Harney mentioned, you perceive women to be outside the geek community, that the insult only affects male geeks, and that female geeks should be “allies” against anti-geek insults before sexism is addressed. Just like how some white feminists believe that women of colour are “allies” to women, as a male geek, you believe that female geeks are “allies” to geeks. Women of colour are women. Female geeks are geeks. Female geeks are not in a privileged position to be taken more seriously by female non-geeks. You might think so only if you do not think of female geeks as geeks.”

    And once again we are back to the self delusion where ‘fighting for all’ really means ‘fighting for all women’. If this is the fight you want to fight go ahead, I wont stop you, but I certainly won’t help more then I am required to by law.
    Oh, and did I forget to mention that the insults I quoted were dealt by feminist women?

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about here. Is it that you bring up anal rape shower scenarios when the topic is same sex marriage, and then people accuse you of being homophobic, and you wonder why?”

    Pure and utter nonsense.

    Firstly this illustrates how minority movements work, they want support from everyone, but they don’t think they are required to support anyone, in fact they find themselves entitled to continue to dish out insults at everyone. Something similar to feminists. And no, the topic discussed when I brought this up was that my friends discuses being uncomfortable showering with a homosexual male.

    So to sum it up.

    1) Fight for all equals fight for women.
    2) Quid pro quo means, give me everything, I don’t have to give anything back.
    3) I have the right to be the final arbiter of what other people find insulting and if they have the right to feel insulted.
    4) I decide what is worth fighting for, but I still demand support from everyone.

  32. Lisa Harney Says:

    Oh really, I’ll say it as simply as possible:

    * Sexism is a huge problem in geek communities.
    * You expect geek women to serve what you perceive as your needs in order to expect the possibility of a chance that you might address women’s needs.
    * You think that the negativity directed toward geek culture and geeks is only directed at geek men.
    * I don’t accept you as an authority on whether women in your circles are treated as equals. You seem to think that not being sexist means devoting all of your energies to women’s needs to the exclusion of the geek community’s needs as a whole, even though women are a part of that community. You see women’s needs as separate from men’s needs.

    Quid pro quo shouldn’t be an issue here. You’re saying that women have to give you something in order for you to not be a sexist jerk to women. That it’s somehow too much to expect men to be decent human beings to women without women offering something in return. Something apparently beyond being decent human beings to you. I’d say many women already go beyond that, putting up with sexist crap for years or decades so far.

  33. Restructure! Says:

    Lisa Harney,

    * You think that the negativity directed toward geek culture and geeks is only directed at geek men.

    and that it originates only from women.

  34. Oh Really Says:

    Lisa Harney

    I don’t see one thing in your statements that agree with what I have said.

    * Sexism is a huge problem in geek communities.
    Never denied that.

    * You expect geek women to serve what you perceive as your needs in order to expect the possibility of a chance that you might address women’s needs.
    No, I expect outspoken feminists that talk about banding together to actually start telling their own ilk off before demanding support from somebody else.

    * You think that the negativity directed toward geek culture and geeks is only directed at geek men.

    No, I don’t I said that feminists that talk so much about change and banding together should start by fighting their own kind, the feminists that thinks it perfectly ok to use genderd insults.

    * I don’t accept you as an authority on whether women in your circles are treated as equals. You seem to think that not being sexist means devoting all of your energies to women’s needs to the exclusion of the geek community’s needs as a whole, even though women are a part of that community. You see women’s needs as separate from men’s needs.

    Do much more projecting why don’t you?
    I think that if you want to have any credibility in your claims that you fight for all and not just for women, then you should start by standing up to your own, the same feminists I have described.

    “Quid pro quo shouldn’t be an issue here. You’re saying that women have to give you something in order for you to not be a sexist jerk to women.”
    Nonsense. I am saying that until I see feminists standing up to their own, I will do nothing more to help them than what the law requires me to. This is not being a sexist jerk, this is called choosing your fights.

    “Something apparently beyond being decent human beings to you. I’d say many women already go beyond that, putting up with sexist crap for years or decades so far.”

    You mean like the right to use genderd insults?

    “and that it originates only from women.”
    Pure and utter nonsense. I have said no such thing. I have said that the so called egalitarian feminists should show that they are egalitarians. Otherwise they are just gynocentric, they can be gynocentric all they like, but I am not going to volunteer one bit of help to the gynocentric cause. Why should I help a movement that seem to be mostly about telling me how worthless I am?

  35. Restructure! Says:

    Oh Really,

    * The majority of sexism is directed at women, and that is why most anti-sexist efforts are about helping women.

    * The statement “I am not an engineer since I don’t spend all my spare time in my basement with my porn collection” is (i) anti-geek, and (ii) sexist because it suggests that all engineers are men.

    * Anti-geek female non-geeks are not my “ilk” if I am a female geek, in the same way that racist white feminists are not my “ilk” if I am a woman of colour. Simply being a woman does not give me some kind of immunity to anti-geek and racist hate directed at me. Why don’t you call out anti-geek statements to help me out as a geek? Seeing as we’re both recipients of anti-geek hate, I don’t have an extra responsibility to call it out over you, since I’m not on the anti-geek feminists’ side in the first place.

  36. Restructure! Says:

    Oh Really,

    OK, I think your problem is like that of other white-collar able-bodied heterosexual white cis male geeks, who only experience one type of prejudice and don’t understand the concept of intersectionality. I’ll quote myself:

    I think the problem with most male geeks is that they do not understand the concept of intersectionality. Yes, geeks do face prejudice, but there are multiple dimensions of prejudice, others being gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. A male geek may experience anti-geek prejudice, but a female geek would experience both anti-geek prejudice and misogyny from both geek and non-geek men. However, when male geeks set up the dichotomy of “geeks versus girls”, collapsing the “girls” or women category into a monolith and ignoring female geeks, they see “girls” as the oppressors of “geeks”.

    That’s not how it works.

  37. Oh Really Says:

    Restructure

    I have already told said feminists to shut up at several times.

    Did you once again miss the fact that these comments were dished out by very outspoke female FEMINISTS. This is what I mean by ilk, feminists.

    Regarding your second comment. You make a lot of assumptions. You assume I am white, I am not. I have faced blatant racism as well.
    Intersectionality is in my opinion an invention by feminists to explain why a white woman in the western world is worse off than a black man in tropical africa.

  38. Restructure! Says:

    Oh Really,

    “Feminists” in general are not my “ilk”. It is not my job to educate you, but many women of colour do not identify as “feminists”, or are ex-feminists because of white racism in the (white) feminist “community”. Some trans women also broke ranks with the label “feminist” because of transphobia among (cis) feminists, I believe. This does not mean that we think sexism is not a problem, but it means that we associate the term “feminism” with white cis feminism. There are other terms people use, such as womanist and radical women of color (rwoc). Others have to have a qualifier before the word “feminist” (such as “anti-racist feminist”) so as not to be associated with the other (racist) feminists. “Feminists” in general were never my “ilk”.

    I apologize for calling you white.

    “Intersectionality” does not mean what you think it means.

  39. Flaw In The System Says:

    “* The statement “I am not an engineer since I don’t spend all my spare time in my basement with my porn collection” is (i) anti-geek, and (ii) sexist because it suggests that all engineers are men.”

    Actually no its not, however your comment only men look at porn, thats a little sexist no?

  40. Restructure! Says:

    Flaw In The System,

    There is no stereotype of women engineers being porn collectors. The chain of association is engineer -> male geek -> porn.

  41. jon Says:

    In a thread on Liminal States about the”Arrington kerfuffle” Restructure! commented (among other things):

    As for the “women in tech” issue in general, my general opinion is that Discussing sexism in geek communities is more important than discussing gender imbalance.

    I replied, including

    I can see both sides here. I totally agree that it’s critical to discuss sexism. [Props to Ivan Boothe for doing so in Blame Sexism.] And I agree that abstract numerical discussions of representation risk becoming a proxy for dealing with deeper issues. On the other hand I also think it’s valuable to look at representation for several reasons …

    and said I’d respond at greater length here. Here’s a first stab at it …

    In some situations underrepresentation leads to institutionalized bias. A few examples:

    women’s lack of visibility in media provides a huge advantage to men and companies run by men
    lack of female mentors and role models consistently comes up as a big barrier for many women
    when 90% of VCs and 90% of startup founders are guys, almost none of the wealth created going to women.

    Here I think you absolutely have to discuss representation to understand the problems and potential solutions. Even if all sexist behavior immediately vanished the effects on the system remain.

    At the same time representation can useful for understanding patterns and leverage points in a system. 90%/10% gender ratios are often signals that people have not seriously looked at and invested in doing better. These are good opportunities for progress. Back in April Rachel Sklar of Change The Ratio challenged New York VC Fred Wilson about the VC firm’s 90% male recruiting pool. Since then Fred has been been very visible on this issue, most importantly spotlighting Tereza Nemessanyi’s XX Combinator post and then invited her to guest-post, and even wading into the comments on Arrington’s post.

    And finally a couple of tactical things:

    ratios in conference participation are situations where it’s possible for individuals (chairs, members of the planning team) to have a significant impact
    maybe it’s just me but there are some forms of sexism like preferential attachment and biases in “objective” algorithms that are very difficult to understand or explain without explicitly discussing representation.

    jon

    PS: thanks again for leaving the comment — I’m a huge fan, so it was one of those “highlight of the day” moments :-)

  42. Restructure! Says:

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t look at gender imbalance at all, but that I personally don’t care much about it as much as about sexism. Mostly it’s because I’m selfish, and dragging other women down with me so that I don’t sink alone does not help me as much as ending or reducing sexism. See also: Don’t mention the war.

  43. Discussing sexism in geek communities is more important than discussing gender imbalance. | Geek Feminism Blog Says:

    [...] This post was originally published at Restructure! [...]

  44. Across the calculus sections, women outperformed men on grades. « Restructure! Says:

    [...] in STEM because we just don’t like it, and so we should celebrate differences instead of making women “miserable” by “forcing” us into careers we “don’t …. This study would debunk that myth, if only most men in tech who discuss the topic of women in tech [...]


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