Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 28th May 2012 19:25 UTC
In the News This topic comes up quite a lot on technology websites, but I generally try to steer clear from it as much as possible, since I'm not the one to talk about it (you know, with me being a man and all that), however, I feel it might be a good idea to just get my opinion out there and be done with it. The topic of women in IT is a hot-button issue, so let me just go out guns blazing: assuming women need special treatment, help, protection, and affirmative action is just as insulting and degrading as outright claiming women have no place in IT - maybe even more so.
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Affirmative action isn't a solution
by Dave_K on Mon 28th May 2012 21:49 UTC
Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

Setting aside any issues of whether affirmative action as a concept is right or wrong, a major practical problem is that it comes into play far too late to create the intended outcome. It doesn't take into account the fact that men and women have (on average) already chosen different paths before they even enter college, let alone join the workforce.

I think it's fair to say that fewer women take an interest in fields like IT and engineering while growing up. Even with programmes to encourage women to study these subjects, they're certainly still heavily male dominated in university.

If most of the graduates in a particular field are men, then most of the people entering professions requiring those qualifications will also be men. The reverse is true if you look at fields (like psychology for example) that are becoming female dominated. That inequality of outcome will still exist even if there's no sex discrimination when hiring employees.

This is something I've seen while working in IT. When a job was advertised there'd often be 20+ male applicants and maybe one single woman. Needless to say, the office was full of guys.

I'm sure some people would be looking to blame that on misogynists at the company giving preferential treatment to men. In reality management went out of their way to hire women, even if they were less qualified and experienced than some male applicants. But it wouldn't have mattered if they'd hired every woman who applied, there still wouldn't have been a 50/50 split.

Affirmative action practices like gender quotas and preferential hiring can't create qualified women out of thin air. I don't think they'll work without first convincing women to make different choices from an early age.

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