I Don't Like Articles about Women in Technology
Subject:   Assumptions
Date:   2007-09-24 11:09:42
From:   AmyHoy
Response to: Not a Binary Wrold

I find it interesting how people have misinterpreted what I have written. I think that if I'd been able to publish the longer, original version, it would have made more sense. But we all have to work within constraints.

What constitutes success is an important question. It seems like a number of people who read this essay of mine came away thinking that I call financial or professional success the only kind; far from it, that's much less important to me than what I've learned about life, humanity, integrity and relationships.

You can be successful in the most adverse circumstances if your beliefs dictate that rectitude of action, compassion, and following what's right are the most important kind of success. Or bravery. Or never giving up on (or renouncing) your faith. Or never failing a friend. Or facing your personal demons, the things that make you want to hide under a rock or fall asleep and never wake up. And you can -- and often must -- tread that path alone.

For things like professional success, you can also go it alone. But typically, you'll need help. The people you trust and whose trust you earn are an example of something within your power to change.

You can assume that I'm too young, too naive, under-experienced, and over-privileged. You'd be wrong, but that's your choice.

I specifically chose to add my age to this essay not to go "look at me, look how successful and young I am!" but to bring this kind of bias out into the light. I knew some people would write me off because of it, but it was a sacrifice I have been willing to make.

Extraordinary people exist in every walk of life, in every kind of circumstance. Many of them have little or no good fortune to back them, but that's what makes them extraordinary, isn't it? I challenge the very idea that "most people cannot live such lives." Whether or not they become famous is another matter, but the ability is available to everyone.

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  • Assumptions
    2007-10-11 11:11:43  dikelmm [View]

    You wrote: kvetching about women in technology is the antithesis of personal responsibility. No matter how you slice it, the arguments of something must be done; help must be given; someone must change!; or women fail because of something men do all feature the underlying assumption that someone else has power over you or insert-allegedly-marginalized-group-here. After all, a person must have power over you to grant you special treatment or quash your efforts. And that's just not right. I don't even mean that it's not morally right—it's just not accurate.

    If a person takes out a gun and shoots you, they have power over you. Maybe not moral power, but power nonetheless. If a judge sentences you, they have power over you. That is a fact. If a person thinks that women cannot do technology well and fails to consider you for a job, they have power over you. Not absolute power, not power to stop you completely, but power of some magnitude. If a person doen't like the color or shade of your skin and discriminates against you, they have power over you. And you will find such discrimination in all societies, including the African-American.

    You seem to think that such situations do not exist or are not worth thinking about anymore. You seem to think you are above such forces. But you are not. Some groups in any society have much more power than others. All history is a struggle between these groups. One Frederick Douglass does not make up for tens of millions of brutaized slave lives. Power is important. Ann Frank lived a great life, but was killed nonetheless. Do you think maybe she would have traded her fame for a few decades of living? People want to live as best they can but the playing field is not even. You have just not encountered this in a way which affects you greatly. I have a feeling that you may look back on your words in 30 years and shake your head.