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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Tony Swash
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The system we used in local government in the UK was quite a good one and it was called Equal Opportunities, usually shortened to just 'Equal Op's.

First: we had to monitor and record the ethnic, gender, and where known sexual orientation, of our workforce at regular intervals. These stats were published along side similar population stats so that everyone could see which social groups were being under represented.

Second: everyone involved in recruitment had to undertake special Equal Op's training so that all interviewers and selectors of candidates were educated and trained in how to conduct fair and open recruitment programmes.

Third: Every job interview had to be scored independently by three people who kept full notes and had to use the same objective system of scoring against agreed lists of desirable skills and abilities required for the job. Those notes could and often were scrutinised if anyone felt they had been discriminated against.

Fourth: because those excluded and discriminated against in employment often could not acquire the required skills or experience, and thus a cycle of exclusion was created, it was mandatory for recruiters and interviewers to look for what were called transferable skills. For example if the ability to manage budgets was required and someone had never done that professionally but had managed the budget of a church, or voluntary association then that was a transferable skill.

Fifth: any overt expression of discriminatory or insulting opinions or abusive behaviour was a very, very serious and sackable offence.

The stated aim of the policy was that over time the ethnic and gender profile of our workforce (which was the largest local employer with over 10,000 posts) should try to match the local ethnic and gender population profiles. And over time it went from being way off profile to becoming a much closer fit.

And there was no positive discrimination.

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