Dear IT industry: “Meritocracy” does not mean what you think it means.

IT culture is so ignorant about how society works that what would be satire in other contexts is actually how most IT people think. IT people in general are not exactly experts on how people and society work, yet too many individuals in IT like to make bold, confident, and unsupported claims about meritocracy.

Vivek Wadhwa of TechCrunch writes:

Is the Valley deliberately keeping these groups out? I don’t think so. Silicon Valley is, without doubt, a meritocracy. In this land, only the fittest survive. That is exactly the way it should be. For the Valley’s innovation system to achieve peak performance, new technologies need to constantly obsolete the old, and the world’s best techies need to keep making the Valley’s top guns compete for their jobs. There is no room for government mandated affirmative action, and our tech companies shouldn’t have to apologize for hiring the people they need. But at the same time, without realizing it, the Valley may be excluding a significant part of the American population that could be making it even more competitive. False stereotypes may be getting in the way of greater innovation and prosperity.

“Meritocracy” means “a society or social system in which people get status or rewards because of what they achieve”. If some people get status and rewards partly because they are white and male, then the system is not a meritocracy. Such a system would have a racial and gender bias, just like every other industry.

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Male doctors are paid more than female doctors with the same experience and expertise.

Male doctors earn £15,000 a year more than women, study reveals (The Guardian):

There is an average salary gap of £15,245 between men and women among the UK’s 135,000 medics, according to a report by the British Medical Association. After excluding differences owing to age, experience and area of specialism, the study found that female consultants typically earn £5,500 less than their male peers and female junior doctors’ pay is around £2,000 below that of their male counterparts. The research, to be published on Friday, is the first to investigate differences in doctors’ salaries.

“Our results show that men and women with identical experience and expertise are paid differently – which suggests evidence of discrimination,” concludes the report, which has been funded by the BMA, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Imperial College London and the Medical Women’s Federation.

via brinstar.mp

Men in IT are paid more than women in IT.

Women IT professionals earn 13% less than men IT professionals, according to BCS. In other words, men in IT are paid 15% more than women in IT.

Graph of gender pay gap in IT (United Kingdom). In 2008, male IT professionals earned £650, female IT professionals earned £550, and total IT professionals earned about £650.

(Note that the Y axis does not start at £0.)

(Via The F-Word via Geek Feminism Blog)