Dog eat dog world of diversity

USAToday has an opinion piece up written by a woman who is tired of white women being the face of diversity when it comes to representation in technology companies. I have in the past sympathized with under representation, but my views have evolved and continue to do so. I currently have a lack of sympathy for those who claim there’s a great injustice being perpetrated on minorities because of their perceived low population in tech companies. ORLY? I took an admittedly cursory look at the numbers and they don’t point to a vast conspiracy by men to keep women out of tech jobs. In 2011, the number of engineering degrees awarded to women was 18.4%. This encompasses biomedical and environmental which both have around 40% of degrees awarded to women and also mechanical, electrical and computer engineering which have around 10% each. CNN’s look at 5 tech companies’ demographics show women comprise 27% of the professionals. Not the accountants, admins, clerks, etc… the professionals. There doesn’t appear to be much damning evidence there. Well, how about race? Here the data gets more interesting but only very slightly. Engineering degrees awarded to blacks and Hispanics were 12.7% of the total in 2011. The number of black or Hispanic workers at the 5 tech companies was 8.9%. Look at that giant ~3% of unfairness! Anyways, apparently white women aren’t minority enough to count as an under represented minority (URM is apparently the proper terminology), so Nicole Sanchez decides its her mission to correct that view.

Nicole Sanchez - Not a white woman

Nicole Sanchez – Not a white woman

From the article:

White men “let” white women into the halls of power they created, and little changes for the rest of us.

“The rest of us” here means … people that look like her?

But something that everyone paying attention to diversity in tech needs to understand is this: White women speaking for us as representatives of the “diversity in tech” movement must stop. White women are a small sliver of the available talent, but are currently used as the proxy for all diversity. What works for them is not what works for us.

Okay, I can see a coherent argument being made here. Prove it.

With the announcement of the Lean In Mentorship Network, solutions that work for a scant few women in tech will be the new expected norm for all women. Because this model is primarily about conforming to prevailing systems and fails to take into account institutional biases specific to women of color, there is no critical analysis of the structures that need to be dismantled for women to thrive. And because the prevailing systems are mostly controlled by a narrow slice of white men, which women will be most successful in this model?

You’re losing me.

Women of color already know that trying to conform to the mainstream is damn near impossible. And even if there are times that we can fake it (note: we shouldn’t have to), the emotional toll is enormous.

Living in a warzone can take an enormous emotional toll. You’re complaining about … what? Acting professionally in a professional setting? Cry me a river.

If assimilation is the expectation, those of us who are non-white, older than 40, disabled, trans, not neurotypical, queer, from low-income backgrounds, and/or a host of other identities will continue to be locked out of tech. This is not to discount the fact that cis (people who identify with their gender assigned at birth) straight white women face bias and discrimination in tech. But they are also the most palatable and least threatening to the mainstream as the face of tech diversity.

It’s scary when I read serious liberal thought and end up needing to check the web address to make sure I’m not reading the Onion. I had to look “cis” up and it’s a real thing. How about not inventing a term for “not trans.” Who thought this was such a burning issue that it needed its own word? Or how about this word – “normal.” Normal people identify with the gender assigned at birth. This is not a judgment. It’s using words as they are defined. How much should the vast majority of humanity go out of its way to cater to the perceived slights of the transgender community? Answers.com puts the number of transsexuals per capita at 1/30000 men and 1/100000 women for the entire planet. It’s enough to not be invisible, but I argue it’s not enough that we need the word cisgender to be used in everyday conversation.

If you believe diversity to be a luxury, or something ancillary to your company/ organization’s mission, you will miss the larger point. Diversity is critical to ensure technological innovations that solve real problems. The sector has already lost enormous amounts of talent by ignoring entire sectors of the population as potential innovators. The demographic shift in this country will render many tech companies irrelevant as they are unable to meet the needs of users.

Why is diversity “critical” to solving tech problems? Prove it. I know there are studies where creativity of a group is positively correlated to how diverse it is. That’s great, but there’s a step missing. You still have to prove technical problems are better solved with a diverse group. For a technical problem at certain level of difficulty, I contend that the group IQ is more important than the group diversity. I have no proof, but the author hasn’t provided any proof of her theory either.

Until we are honest about who we are serving in the tech diversity movement and why, we will not have the impact necessary to achieve change on a large scale.

This means having uncomfortable conversations that can be difficult for some people. But if we want these efforts to succeed and sustain for generations to come, we must do this work. We refuse to accept the current paradigms that reflect rather than challenge the status quo and as women of color, we will no longer accept being spoken for.

Exactly why is large scale change necessary in the tech community? What giant flaw has been discovered in laptops or smartphones that’s attributable to a lack of the right kind of diversity? I’ll go further – In all of human history, what technological innovation can be attributed to these aggrieved communities that makes their inclusion so necessary? Having said all this, I’m all for diversity in tech (or any walk of life) if the group that wants to get into it has the interest and ability. I just don’t think having diversity is critical to tech (or any walk of life [except maybe identity politics, I’ll admit it’s easier to be a race baiter if you aren’t white]). Tech will get along just fine with or without you. You are not a special snowflake. What’s funny about all this is that this liberal minority woman is so fed up with other liberal women that she’s written a piece in the USAToday to vent her frustration. When you get to the extremes of identity politics, there are no amount of hyphens or add-ons you can append to your title to make you safe from criticism. You’ve got plus-size Hispanic woman, but that person over there has plus-size transgender African American deaf little person. You don’t represent me! How dare you speak on my behalf. You haven’t lived in my shoes or know the pain I go through every day I don’t see tech companies representing my diversity. Who’s the oppressor now?

Written by 尸zed in: Computers,Social | Tags: , ,

How to be a sniper in 10 mins

This device seems to be initially geared toward the public for game hunting. I’m a little concerned there doesn’t seem to be a restriction on who this gets sold to.

Written by 尸zed in: News | Tags:

US cyber high horse

The Obama administration formally indicted members of the Chinese PLA for the crime of cyberspying. No no, stop the snickering, I’m not joking. Ok, at least not intentionally. Their reason seems to be that Chinese style spying is wrong and the US’s style of spying isn’t because MORALS.

Lest anyone forget, the NSA created backdoors into Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s networks… among a few other things. Like recording every cellphone conversation in the Bahamas. Because we all know that the Bahamas was the center of major terrorist activity. Oh wait, that’s Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen? Well, then at least we know they’re the home nation of all those 9/11 bombers. No, that was Saudi Arabia wasn’t it. Well, at least they’re a major communist power like China. No? Mini communist nobody like Cuba. No? Unfriendly dictatorship. WMD? Nope. Hmm, no they’re a stable relatively friendly (at least up until now) democracy. They aren’t the US. Aha! That’s why we’re spying on them and recording all that information that is probably impossible to sort through to find anything of value in a timely manner. It all makes sense now.

I have no love for how the Chinese handle their cyberspying and even less for how they maintain the Great Firewall, but the US simply has no moral standing on which they can be taken seriously when making accusations about cyberspying. Add to that the fact that Israel routinely and vigorously spies on the US in much the same way that they accuse China of doing and is mostly ignored, and we see that US posturing is really laughable. Everyone spies. Spies use vaccinations as a cover for spying  and accomplish things like find Osama bin Laden. It was a great idea and it has since caused Pakistanis to stop getting their kids vaccinated. Said kids then go on to die from preventable diseases. No ones hands are clean, and in this kind of business, they shouldn’t be if they want to be effective.

Written by 尸zed in: Computers,Crime,Politics | Tags: , ,

Learned debt

For all the students out there contemplating taking on significant debt for a college education, you may want to consider how it’ll impact your future accumulation of wealth. In short, it hurts. A lot.

About four-in-ten U.S. households (37%) headed by an adult younger than 40 currently have some student debt—the highest share on record, with the median outstanding student debt load standing at about $13,ooo.

For those with college debt, the average accumulated wealth is $8700, while those without is $64700 even though the two groups have the same income and same rate of homeowner’s debt. That’s a rather significant difference that could affect a household’s financial decisions for decades on down the line.

Written by 尸zed in: Economy,Education | Tags: , ,

Wheat or rice?

If you’re Chinese, the question of whether your ancestors farmed wheat or rice may affect your current day cultural habits of being interdependent or independent. A study of Chinese groups in southern China where rice farming was prevalent vice northern China where wheat farming was prevalent showed that the rice farmers were more likely to have views that indicated they were culturally interdependent.

So was Malcolm Gladwell right? No, I still think he’s full of shit on his rice theory of math. Southeast Asians and Madagascans have farmed wet rice for hundreds if not thousands of years, and how many famous mathematicians have come out of those areas?

Going back and looking at the IQ breakdown of China by province, there doesn’t seem to be any stark differences in IQ by latitude, so this seems not to affect ability.

Written by 尸zed in: Food,Social | Tags: , ,

Single gene found that accounts for 6 IQ points

If this result holds, and it may not, then a gene has been discovered to account for 6 points of IQ no matter a person’s age. This bests the previous record holder of half a percent by a significant amount. Previously I had reported a similar news item for an IQ gene related to myopia and apparently that result did not hold up, so don’t hold your breath.

But if it does hold up, and the gene is not perfectly equally present in all human races, then there will be definitive proof that races differ in heritable intelligence.

Written by 尸zed in: News,Science | Tags: ,

Links of the day

  1. David Epstein, the author of The Sports Gene, has a TED talk about how atheletes have changed and not changed. It seems that most gains in performance on the Olympic tracks and pools comes from technological gains in materials, construction and discoveries that more extreme bodies perform better at certain sports.
  2. Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance is out now. Here’s a review from The Bell Curve author Charles Murray. Essentially Murray says that Wade is too brave for his own good and might expect some serious professional consequences for talking about race and inheritance.
  3. The Economist has an article describing a study on the basis of Asian American success in the academic arena. Their conclusion is that Asian kids aren’t smarter, but work harder. They came to this conclusion because they found Asian kids had achievement test scores that were approximately equal to those of whites in kindergarten. From past reading however, IQ scores before the age of 14 are much more fluid than after the age of 14, so I don’t know how much stock to put into this study.
Written by 尸zed in: Education,Science,Sports | Tags: , ,

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