What Can Men Do?

They do both legitimately want women to play a larger in the industry, you’re right there. However, the way that each wants to approach the problem is antithetical with the other. In other words, Shanley thinks Jeff is hurting the movement, and Jeff things Shanley is hurting the movement.

For the record, I side with Shanley on this one. Having everyone be polite and courteous in the movement is what leads to issues being dismissed. We need people to be loud and in your face, just as much as we need people to be polite and courteous. We need both firebrands and diplomats, a position which Jeff has disagreed with in the past.

EDIT: looks like I reached my reply limit since I’m a new user, so I’ll leave with this final thought. Not everyone’s role in a movement should be to try and change minds. Sometimes you need people to just stir things up, which is what I think Shanley does. Is this effective? Absolutely. The Stonewall Riots are generally considered to be the single most important event in the struggle for gay rights, and that was an act of outright violence.


The fundamental premise: Sperm is cheap. Eggs are expensive.

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Yes, diversity is a good thing, but no one is stopping to ask why we’re doing this in the first place

Except for the researchers like those linked in the post, among others.

If it’s such a problem why is it that there is virtually no literature on it?

There is.

But the moment anyone dare suggests that there are biological differences in the way we think, and that that could potentially explain discrepancies in female and male-dominated jobs, you get crucified.

Because gender essentialism is a bullshit excuse used to suppress people. (Also, programming used to be a women-dominated field.)

I’d rather not shoehorn people into a field they wouldn’t feel comfortable in just because they’d diversify it.

Nobody is trying to force women to participate in a field they don’t want to be in, or displace others. The goal is to make the field something that won’t drive those who are interested away. There’s clearly a lot still to do. Jeff’s appropriation and dismissal of Shanley Kane’s post (as well as Sarah’s) and discounting her voice is just one example of why women leave. Insensitive responses to the GitHub clusterfuck by prominent industry members is another.


There’s a difference between being polite, being impassioned, and being an asshole.

While often impassioned, Shanley is straight up being an asshole a lot of the time (on Twitter anyway). When has outright insulting people ever been successful in progressing any movement?

She has a lot of really valid points and she has been very articulate about them… but try to teach someone something by calling them a dumbass and they stop listening before you even get another word out. Give someone who disagrees with you a reason to stop listening and they’ll take that opportunity.

I guess this is kind of a Mac vs PC argument, in that there’s probably no reconciling between opposing sides…


You seem to have some strange ideas on how science works. It’s not, I take some observations, speculate on them, draw a conclusion and that’s right. That is pseudoscience. Science is more, I take some observations, speculate on them, draw a conclusion and then test it, to see how wrong my conclusion was. Much more often than not, the answer is: completely wrong.

Now: you took some observations, speculated on them, drawn your conclusions, and convinced yourself (and tried convincing others) they were necessarily right. As I said, this is pseudoscience.

Do yourself (and everyone else) a favour: don’t do it.

Probably has a lot more to do with the fact that a great deal of CS people are completely inept at social skills which excludes people who care about that, including a great deal of other men.

Who would’ve thought women don’t like overweight, neckbearded, fedora-tipping basket cases who see women as objects of desire? For every neckbeard that gets their ego bruised when women enter the field, there are 10 white-knighting and calling them “Mi’lady” and other such nonsense, who then get mad/sullen/sulky when their pathetic fumbling attempts at socialization fail.

Plenty of women in web design. Not really a coincidence when client facing web designers have basic or even superior social skills.

Thanks for keeping it civil, everyone.

@berkun I have a policy that I don’t link to things I consider negative. I don’t believe in amplifying negativity.

edit: I reconsidered that position in this specific case and have included the link. Below part still applies!

However, I am more than happy to host whatever links people want to put in the comments, as I specifically invited in the post! And you’ll note at the top of the topic that Discourse automatically highlights those links – so anyone entering at the top of the comments will see the most popular clicked links in the discussion, with friendly names, first.

(click the title of the topic to get the top, or press the home key, or click the up arrow in the topic progress bar at the bottom right.)

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This is (part of) what Linus Torvalds had to say on a similar discussion.

As others have mentioned, it’s easy to challenge the assumptions about a) needing more women in IT, b) the right way to do that.

The idea that personal relationships should be kept out of the environment where people spend some 60% of their awake hours is absurd.

I’ve been reading mean tweets from Shanley, I read her piece and its all kinda of feminist garbage…I mean it’s fun to have a female co-worker(I’m actually majoring in CS because of my mom that is such a good programmer and supporter for me), but come on, feminist book club for men,gathering to discuss the female problems of the world are the things she proposes. That is so stupid, sooo demanding that only a feminist would suggest it as a solution for anything.
Only fakers and haters will say that you somehow stole her article by placing the most obvious title to adress this subject with the most reasonable suggestions.

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If the tl;dr of this is that (male) engineers need to stop being assholes, then my stumbling block with that is to question whether (male) engineers are in general bigger assholes than (male) doctors and lawyers.

It seems to me that many of the same dynamics would apply. Medicine and law have been even more prestige, require a similar (if not greater) level of rigor, and can be financially lucrative.

Yet, it seems women have taken their place at the table, and I don’t recall this browbeating of (male) doctors and lawyers about them needing to alter their behavior to make their environments more welcoming. To take a trivial example, half of the most popular TV shows of the past 30 years involve workplace romances at hospitals or law firms.

So why? Maybe part of it is that we’d take it. Jeff writes a post implying that most of us are socially stunted mentally disordered assholes, and (largely) gets away with it. I don’t think doctors and lawyers would put up with that.

I also think that, despite the financial rewards, programming has not achieved the social prestige of these other professions. I think people (both men and women) will put up with more crap to be a doctor or lawyer than to be a programmer.

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How many women are lawyers? 33% as of 2012. How many women are doctors? About the same, 33%.

It is better, but that’s not hugely better than the 20% of programmers, is it?

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Or, are men and women actually kind of similar in their behaviour?

I read a great little post on how in a theoretical environment where men and women behaved identically (x% were inappropriate to opposite sex) but there was a population inbalance, the smaller population saw a DRASTIC difference I. Incoming behaviour.

Cannot find it :frowning:.

I would hesitantly postulate that smaller populations are more able to make noise about the situation, especially when they are tech savvy and the Internet exists.

I believe you’re looking for the post on the Petrie Multiplier.

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I too am gonna call BS on you blaming being a jerk on having Aspergers - As NuclearZenFire said

Assigning that behavior as a trait of Aspergers, a disorder which is almost by definition the opposite of being highly attuned to the complexities of deep social clues, is grossly inaccurate.

What’s worse is that - with 16 years in Professional SW engineering - what I have seen is that those who were the biggest jerks were just jerks - most often neurotypical but very insecure and they just loved to throw their weight around. The ones who seemed to be on the spectrum tended to be MUCH quieter, introverted but generally lacked skills in the communication space. They said inappropriate things, bad jokes and the like - but in general wanted to be liked and rarely were jerks - at least not consistently.

If anything I think blaming those on the Spectrum actually blames some of the victims of the jerks - not the jerk themselves. This is a very dangerous path.

Please focus on the BEHAVIOR you want to stop - and stop playing diagnostician - you (and I) simply are not qualified.

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I’m sorry I have to be that guy who dumps on true love, but let’s be honest: the odds of any random office romance working out are pretty slim.

I’m sorry to be the guy who dumps on making stuff up: the odds of office romances working out are actually better than almost all alternatives. About ~40% of people have workplace romances, and of those workplace daters, a huge percentage (30% according to a 2012 CareerBuilder survey of over 4000 people) married co-workers.

Workplaces are amazing self-sorting devices (versus a bar, match.com, etc). You tend to be put in heavy contact with people who share interests, education and backgrounds. Banning workplace relationships – is impossible, useless and tragic. The next logical step is banning workplace friendships. (in hippy voice) Let love bloom man.

Even the President (of the United States) met his wife on the job, Bill and Melinda Gates did as well, and a good chunk of my friends! It is a common American love story.


Hi Jeff!

Found this on Twitter. I grew up in a family that drops the F bomb, so I didn’t take Shanley’s post as angry as you did, when you admonished her on social media for not writing her ideas like Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

I thought her idea of having men exclude themselves from all male conference panels was very innovative and bold. I think she would have been taken more seriously if she was a man who had suggested it, because somehow when a woman says it – it sounds angry to men.

As someone who gets chills from Letter from a Birmingham Jail, I wouldn’t say Shanley did women wrong by voicing her opinions, but if you or others were offended, I can understand.

I appreciate your concern about women, and you have some good points. However, the answer to making tech more woman friendly is more than “Reigning in your natural Asperger’s tendencies” and #5 “Don’t sleep with your coworkers.”

Asperger’s is a condition, and it should not be equated with a tendency to patronize women.

I hope you found my feedback helpful.


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Preventing sexual harrassment by instituting a no-dating rule is kind of like trying to prevent rape by mandating celibacy. It won’t work, and it only serves to draw attention away from the real problem.

Work is an environment where a bunch of people with similar interests spend a lot of time getting to know each other. Expecting people in that proximity not to pair up occasionally is naive. Even worse, a no-dating rule drives relationships underground, which means if an abuser does show up, the fact relationships are “against policy” can be used to silence the victim by implying the victim has a motive to lie about the real state of the relationship with the abuser.

The way to stop abuse is to make sure everyone knows what abuse looks like, and that when it’s discovered something is done about it. These are two things the tech industry (like many other male-dominated industries) are very, very bad at.


Hi Jeff, it is strange to see you in the “Tech Sexism” discussion. For those of you who do not know me, I am a 47yo, and a geek, front-end, jeans and t-shirt variety, not truly hard-core. I can walk up and down the stack, but am happiest near the user. I am in awe of my neighbor for whom everything is an excuse to wire up some hardware, but it is not me. I have MSCS from uiuc, and have done ~7 startups in the last 20 years, and bunch of volunteer geek work.

The entire “Geeks are sexist, and their culture is not inclusive” discussion feels like it is happening in an alternate universe from mine. The facts they throw around do not match my personal experience at all.

  1. 20% of programmers are women? In my career, I’ve worked closely with >100 serious coders, and I remember 6 of them being female, 1 transgender. In the last year, I’ve worked with about 10, and none of them were women.

  2. Technically, working with women did not differ from working with men.

  3. Socially, working with some of women was initially different. Why? Because they were pretty women, and they would talk to you. See #4 why women talking to you is interesting. After an initial shock wore off, she’d be treated like a fellow geek.

  4. As a geek, women were not interested in you at all. My geek awkwardness was like women repelant. Any woman talking to you was an exciting event. This awkwardness and chasm between geeks and women was a fundamental part of geek experience, and was universally acknowledged. See Sex question at http://www.joereiss.net/geek/geek.html: “Geeks have traditionally had problems with sex (ie, they never have any)”.

This changed in my late 20s, when suddenly we all got married in a just a few years. I am still puzzled what changed, there was a sudden turnaround, famine to feast.

In conclusion, there was definitely awkwardness between the geeks and women. The awkwardness manifested itself in us falling for any cute girl that’d talk to us, and not doing anything about it (or something meek, like an awkward invitation for coffee). This was universal, in or out of the workplace. Once we got married, the awkwardness was gone, and we were happy.

The workplace described in all these posts is foreign to me. I cannot imagine a true geeky guy ever being agressive towards women. I’ve seen it among sales/business, but not among techies.

But then, parts of the new startup culture feels very strange to me. I’ve never been to a conference where drinks were part of the experience. Walking down the street, I look and wonder: who are these people, and where’s the awkwardness?

I’d love for my little girl to be an engineer.

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Just to address this point that you and @berkun @Tess and @nebrius brought up. I really do not enjoy linking to corrosive negativity. Here’s some of the “work” we’re talking about:

It is a very curious sort of feminism that attacks other people’s looks.

This is not new or in any way an isolated example. There are miles and miles of this sort of thing in the author’s public twitter timeline, scroll for yourself:


I am honestly not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most hateful Twitter feeds I’ve ever browsed.

So – I was not trying to erase the work. I was trying to erase the hate and vitriol that is so strongly associated with this author.

I am absolutely not interested in engaging with this person in any way whatsoever, and I apologize for even bringing it up. But for people who claim I went out of my way to ‘erase’ someone, I want you to understand the motivation: I wasn’t trying to erase anyone, I just do not like linking to negativity. And this is not the subtle kind. It’s rather extreme. Scroll and see for yourself.

In the end, I relented, and linked to the author at the top of the blog post because claims of “plagiarism” and “failure to cite” are distracting from more substantive discussions.


It’s common, true, but I don’t think it should be. A counterpoint:

Being in HR for many years, I’ve seen plenty of office romances. While some ended with a marriage (and a really fun wedding to go to), most ended badly and often required termination of one or both employees. Therefore, if you seek advice on whether or not you should date a co-worker, the folks in HR will tell you, “Heck NO!” This explains why. In fact, they’ll tell you to avoid it at all costs.

And @Liz_Carlson @Charles_Miller I don’t propose avoiding office romances by policy lightly. I believe the risks of office romances are disproportionately borne by women. If we assume that men are in more positions of power, then breakups mean women will frequently have someone with rank on them in the office who has excellent motive to be upset with them. Is that good?

I mean, look at what happened at GitHub. Certainly the GitHub engineer who was harassing Julie at work about dating him would have at least been given pause if the office policy was a strict no-dating rule. It is not a complete solution, but it helps, and that’s my whole point. All these things help, and they are things Men Can Do.