A different take on sexism in IT
Saturday, 13 October 12
More than ten years ago I started to understand that sexism in IT was not an easy topic. Talking with my female coworkers I discovered they were deeply upset and offended by other women that were too easy to ask for respect using sexism as a flag. At first I was a bit shocked about that, but then I realised how obvious it is.
As a woman you want respect because you are capable and smart. Not because you are a woman.
In the course of my life I started to develop an higher and higher intolerance for topics like politically correctness and protection of minorities unless this was clearly put in general terms. If you are an human being you need to be respected because you deserve respect like any other. I don't care if you are black, white, yellow or woman, you are an individual.
Similarly, I will not care who you are if you do something silly at work. Nothing is more offensive for you than me being too easy with you because you are part of some minority. This is, basically, a masked form of reverse-sexism, and is deeply offensive. This is what my female coworkers meant when they were so upset against other women talking about sexism too easily.
In general if there is a problem at the work place between individual A and B, I think it is always an error to talk about sexism, even when the root cause is some asshole not respecting you because you are a woman. Instead the problem should be addressed in a sexual agnostic way. Why is A not payed like B even if they have similar responsibilities and tasks? Why A is not respected by B as she deservers as an individual?
Trying to protect women in tech since they are women is like moving a cultural problem (the sexism) into an individual domain. A woman in tech has nothing less than a male in tech, as such does not need special care or protection. She needs to be respected as everybody else.
Another naive way to consider the problem is to think that sexism is a state of mind of men. Actually the problem is more complex than that, and a lot of women don't consider themselves or other women as capable as men.
Blog posts about this topic that try to make people aware of sexism or try to send the message "we should be all kind so that women will feel great in our industry" are not the solution, nor to stress politically correctness is going to help at all. As a proof in the United States where politically correctness and protection of minority is a topic always over-discussed, the condition of women is worse than in North Europe, where such an obsession does not exist.
It's silly to try to protect all the minorities because they are minorities. We should protect individuals as they have equal dignity, without resort to sex, race, and other discriminatory attributes.
Every minute spent on discussing gender issues in technology is a wasted minute that should be better spent building free software -- Randi Harper
a.k.a. FreeBSD Girl