Gaming, Linux, Programming by day. Atheism and tolerance by night. Sci-Fi television all hours of the day.
And that subject was NOT sarcastic.
Yesterday the creator of Redis posted a tweet that actually made a few proclaim they would no longer use his software. Mostly, I’d like to chalk this up to the Twitter limitation — it’s hard to convey a lot of political nuances in 140 characters or less.
“People should stop writing articles about sexism in tech. It’s not interesting and IMHO it’s not the central problem for most women in tech.”
The tweet was met with unprecedented flaming, and Antirez did his best to try and clarify his meaning. However, once one person interpreted the tweet as reading “Sexism doesn’t exist in IT”, that was all many believed he was saying.
The vitriol was such that he now set up a new twitter account, @zeritna (anti-antirez?) so that he could keep his opinions and his software separate. He also posted a blog entry further explaining his point of view on sexism in the tech industry.
First, I must preface my own opinion by saying I have done absolutely zero research on sexism in the tech industry. These are my opinions and my trying to promote the work of @antirez because it’s damn good work, regardless as to whether or not you agree with what he is trying to say about sexism.
It’s true there’s an imbalanced male::female ratio of people working in the industry, but that can be said for many industries, and is not tech specific.
Second, using any sort of demographic as a crutch with which one tries to keep employment regardless of quality of work should be frowned upon. It doesn’t matter whether you are a woman, non-white, transgendered, so badly scarred that your entire face is obscured, or hailing from a distant planet that eats paint to power your own bio-grafted rocket boots.
The point is that quality of work is quality of work. Salvatore was making a point that he feels many people use their demographic to get out of being reprimanded for a poor work ethic. The specific demographic cited in his tweet was that of gender but it’s a global concept, and is a problem that I have with a lot of my fellow homos.
Personally, I don’t agree with anyone calling attention to their difference just because it’s different in order to stir something up for “equal rights” makes any sense. This is not saying you shouldn’t call attention to inequalities.
An example I often cite is the “Day of Silence” that was held back when I was in college. Despite the participation of much of the school’s GLBT population, I adamantly refused each year. Why on Earth would I, as a gay male, shut up for a day to get a message about inequalities across to the non-GLBT-friendly crowd? Isn’t that exactly what non-friendly people want?
My stance is often seen as subduing my “differences” in order to “fit in” to the norm. This too is not the case. There’s never a secret about my sexual preference nor my non-religious viewpoint. I do not try to fit in to any norm just to do so, nor do I try to make myself stand out as different just to do so.
Here are facts: I am a gay man, an atheist, and a software developer. Sometimes I screw up and make big mistakes and my boss gets annoyed with me. She does not get annoyed with me because I am gay or an atheist. She gets annoyed because a mistake was made that makes her day worse.
If instead of having an XY chromosome, I had XX, and all other situations remained the same, the same could statement could be said, even if my boss were male.
Now, the second my boss says (and she never would) “This is exactly why homosexuals shouldn’t write software”, there’d be a problem.
Antirez was saying that the problem is many demographic minorities jump to their difference to avoid blame. “He’s only mad at me because I’m Muslim — he wouldn’t discipline my Christian coworkers like this!” — this may be a fact in your circumstance if you have witnessed Christian co-workers making a similar mistake and not being punished.
But this isn’t about racial or religious equality, it’s about gender equality, because that’s the one that is most vocalized in this industry (at least to my knowledge).
This article, for instance, pretty much pinpoints the problem. Simply nobody knows, but it is suggested that more women be given opportunities because they are women, not because they are talented. Sure, there are very probably talented women who are not given the same opportunities, but at the same time, in a field where you can be anyone and hack on any project and submit your code and your edits and report your bugs, how can it be said that there’s not the opportunity to prove oneself no matter who you are?
So, to boil down what Antirez was trying to say:
Women in the tech industry who feel discriminated against : Rally people into action and show others the inequality. Show someone a great piece of software you’ve written that was not selected for a patch because you’re a woman. Show that you work harder and smarter and don’t get paid as much as your male counterparts. Don’t just write blog entries saying that you feel discriminated against. That is not the way to solve the problem.
In the above statement, you can replace “Women”, “tech industry” and “a great piece of software you’ve written that was not selected for a patch” to whatever nouns you choose to apply to any demographic in any industry. There are absolutely inequality problems out there needing to be solved, but nobody can help solve it if there’s not something to hold onto.