Women in Technology

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Article:
  I Don't Like Articles about Women in Technology
Subject:   Perspective?
Date:   2007-09-13 22:27:16
From:   shelleyp
Response to: Perspective?

I've been accused of speaking negatively to Amy in these comments, so I hesitate to say anything more. It is a pity that one can't really be critical, or even disagree strongly without being adversely labeled.


I don't see anything wrong by Amy being a success in our field; more power to her. I am not responding to the course she has taken, but to the essay she contributed to this series.


In this essay, Amy used an number of derogatory terms in her writing that degenerate the rest of us who have chosen to take a different course from her. Words such as 'whining' and 'victim', which can only be viewed as an attempt to demean the rest of us.


If Amy wants to demonstrate being a successful woman in tech by being a successful woman in tech, great. What happened in this writing, though, is that she basically threw the rest of us under the bus.


"Here I am," she seems to say. "I don't complain because I believe that only I'm responsible for what happens to me." Anything that follows, then, has been relegated to 'complaint', if not out and out 'whine'.


How very comfortable for those who prefer the status quo. How much more difficult for those who fight real discrimination, bias, and sexism in this industry. And make no mistake: all three are very real.


Whining and victims. To think I would hear our effort reduced in such a way. People wanting to generate lasting change, who point out obvious bias and discrimination, who actively push awareness of the issues facing women in technology are not victims, and neither is what we're saying 'whining'--far from it.


What's sad is that Amy probably has benefited from the work, past and present, of the very women she seems to hold in such little regard. I don't consider that acting very responsibly. However, that's my opinion, Amy has hers, you have yours. I guess we'll have to just accept the fact that we disagree.




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Showing messages 1 through 2 of 2.

  • No need to be delicate...
    2007-09-24 11:27:47  AmyHoy [View]

    Shelley, you can claim that the "accusation" of negativity comes as a surprise to you, that you have carefully weighed and considered my words before asking reasonable questions, but let's be honest here. Your tone is far too obvious to misinterpret. People in this industry know who you are and anticipate your response to things they do and say. I expected this as well.

    You have silenced or intimidated others in the past. But you do not intimidate me.
  • Perspective?
    2007-09-14 18:21:01  kollivier [View]

    What's sad is that Amy probably has benefited from the work, past and present, of the very women she seems to hold in such little regard. I don't consider that acting very responsibly. However, that's my opinion, Amy has hers, you have yours. I guess we'll have to just accept the fact that we disagree.

    I think you are mis-interpreting some of what Amy is saying. I think you may have focused so much on her critical tone that you've kinda misunderstood who she's leveling her criticism at. Certainly not all the women who have fought for equality.

    For example, take the 'whining' comment. I highly doubt that Amy is seeking to deride the entire women's rights movement by making this comment. I think she is far more specifically addressing people who focus on problems, rather than solutions, and are comfortable attributing failures in their own life to discrimination when they really could have overcome those obstacles had they tried.

    Sad to say, this rings very true to me because I know people who do this, and they give up with amazing ease. And yes, they call themselves victims and say 'what can I do'? And when they're given suggestions about how to address the issue (e.g. switch employers, bring the issue to management/court, be a bit more aggressive in asking for what you deserve, etc.), they say "it won't work, because of all those who discriminate against me". Without trying. At all. They complain about being discriminated against, but their actions actually show they're just looking for a way out of having to do anything, without it being their fault. In a sense, though they don't mean to, they're actually enabling and encouraging the very discrimination they claim causes them so much trouble. Perhaps you don't know anyone like this, in which case, I'd consider you lucky.

    That brings us to Amy's comments about personal responsibility. Personal responsibility is about asking yourself "am I doing everything I possibly can to succeed?" If not, you can't really (objectively) isolate whether the major cause of failure is you, or any obstacles in your way.

    Actually, this also rings very true with me, because I myself got a lecture on this some time ago by someone who made me a very strong believer in this philosophy - my wife. :-) And it was because she got fed up with me saying I was a victim of circumstance. She didn't say "hey, you think you have it bad, well, I'm a woman and an ethnic woman at that. Can you imagine all the discrimination I've been through?" Instead, what she said to me is - "if you did not do absolutely everything in your power to succeed, then you can't point the finger at anyone but yourself. So, did you?" I got quiet, because I knew the answer.

    That point, no joke, changed my life forever. As soon as I stopped focusing on all the people who were supposedly holding me back, and instead focused on how I could achieve more, I started achieving all sorts of things I complained I was being held back from doing. And that, I think, is Amy's main point. Is there discrimination? Sure, some form of discrimination happens every day to all groups of people. But I think the worst possible thing you could do to discriminators is to counter their stereotypes and arguments by achieving more and further improving the state of women in IT (or anywhere).