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Government IT

The Shortage of Women In IT 697

Posted by samzenpus
from the equal-opportunity dept.
CIStud writes "The IT industry is hurting for women. Currently only 11% of IT companies are owned by women. The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program requires 5% of all IT jobs to go to female-owned integration companies, but there must be at least 2 female bidders. There are so few female bidders that women-owned IT firms are ineligible for the contracts. From the article: 'Wendy Frank, founder of Accell Security Inc. in Birdsboro, Pa., wishes she had more competitors. It's not often you hear any integrator say that, but in Frank's case, she has good reason. The current Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program authorizes five percent of Federal prime and subcontracts to be set aside for WOSBs. While that might sound fair on the surface, in order to invoke the money set aside for this program, the contracting officer at an agency has to have a reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs will submit offers for the job. “We could not participate in the government’s Women-Owned Small Business program unless there was another female competitor,” says Frank. “Procurement officers required that at least two women-owned small businesses compete for the contracts, even in the IT field, where women-owned businesses are underrepresented.”'"
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The Shortage of Women In IT

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  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by carolfromoz (1552209) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:45PM (#40132255)

    Historically, boys, rather than girls, were encouraged to play with computers in the, "let's take it apart and upgrade it," sense. This encourages boys through their adolescent years to play with computers themselves as opposed to just using them. These boys grow into young men with knowledge and experience that fills though few slots above the average user, ie, the exact knowledge needed for entry-level service, like fixing PCs, setting up equipment, and other things that small service companies do for revenue.

    I don't know if it's as simple as childhood encouragement. As a 42 year old female who's been working in IT for more than 20 years you can imagine I encourage both my son and daughter to be interested in maths, science and computers. Boy loves it all and is very interested; girl does not want to know. Why is this? Maybe just natural tendencies - I don't know. Wish I did.

  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX (665546) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:58PM (#40132337)
    I don't know that I was lucky- when I broke toys I didn't get new ones. After awhile, my parents stopped fixing them for me, and I had to fix them myself. The computer was the same way, when I messed up DOS I had to figure out how to reinstall it. When I wanted a modem, I had to learn what an ISA slot was (as I only had one serial port for the aftermarket mouse), what COM ports were, what IRQs were, etc. When I wanted a 3.5" floppy, I had to learn, the hard way, that the 8088 couldn't address more than a 720K disk, so the 1.44M disks had to be taped and reformatted 720K for me to use them until I finally got a better computer. All of this expansion was purchased with my allowance- I had to save up for many months for each component.

    My parents encouraged me to play to learn.
  • Re:Damn it.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:11AM (#40132421)

    They probably got tired of the bullshit involved.

    There are, unfortunately, no shortage of IT shops where long, effectively unpaid, hours are the norm.

    I've noticed women generally don't have a bromance culture. Ergo, when an idiot boss attempts to take advantage of workers - men can be convinced that they're 'rockstars', comrades in arms, a veritable band of brothers, for putting in an eighty hour week that nets them forty hours of pay.

    Women, used to the Machiavellian scheming of the fairer sex, easily spot the delusional asshattery, and GTFO.

  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShaggyZet (74769) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:45AM (#40132587) Homepage

    The problem with this statement is that historically and on average, female dominated industries (like nursing and teaching) don't pay as well as male dominated industries (like engineering). And when they start to, like nursing did a few years ago when there was a shortage, more and more men go into them.

    There's nothing inherently wrong with this, it's the free market at work, but government contracting isn't the free market, for various reasons good and bad.

  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX (665546) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:57AM (#40132641)
    Expressing interest while otherwise remaining professional in the environment isn't the problem- limiting one's contact to expressing interest a majority of the time is. That's what I've observed in computer clubs, computer classes, and workplaces. I've observed women who aren't physically touched, aren't directly solicited for sexual acts, aren't threatened with demotion or termination for a lack of sexual acts, but instead aren't respected professionally and instead are simply hit on. Their technical opinions are not solicited, their technical experience is considered irrelevant. It doesn't matter how good at their jobs they are- coworkers can't see and will not acknowledge the work they can do. It's the attitude that those around them are only going to value them for their gender difference for making a pass, regardless of what they have to contribute in the particular field.

    That's the worst kind of sexual harassment of all, in my opinion, as it's the most insidious and is what truly creates "glass ceiling" and fosters the environment where egregious personal violations happen.

    To me, honestly, it's okay to flirt with a coworker. Just respect that coworker's abilities and relevancy to the job, as well as any desire on their part to be left alone in this way if they request it.
  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cffrost (885375) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:25AM (#40132779) Homepage

    I don't know if it's as simple as childhood encouragement. As a 42 year old female who's been working in IT for more than 20 years you can imagine I encourage both my son and daughter to be interested in maths, science and computers. Boy loves it all and is very interested; girl does not want to know. Why is this? Maybe just natural tendencies - I don't know. Wish I did.

    It is definitely (in part due to) natural tendencies. The same response is observed in at least one other primate species. I can't remember the specific species with which I saw this demonstrated, but when these young primates were presented with a selection of toys to play with, the females preferred dolls, while the males preferred to play with toy vehicles.

    I'm pretty sure I saw this in an episode of BBC Horizon, but I don't have a reference to the particular episode. However, here are links to two articles that discuss primate toy preference:

    Dorothy Lepkowska on Gender and Toys [guardian.co.uk]
    Chimp "Girls" Play With "Dolls" Too—First Wild Evidence [nationalgeographic.com]

  • by dbIII (701233) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:26AM (#40132781)
    I've seen more women in power stations, chemical plants, foundaries and mines than I've seen in IT.
    That is extremely odd because of examples like this: in 1987 less than 1% of the students enroled in my year of Engineering were women, yet about 52% of those enroled in computer science were women. When I ended up in workplaces with a lot of IT staff there was a lower percentage of women in that role than amoung mining engineers in underground mines located in remote areas! Of course this is not a US example (I'm Australian), but the odd situation of having close to zero of a gender in a role which is really a safe office job is very odd. There are definitely things occuring which are keeping all of those women that are interested out of IT jobs. Whatever happened to those women that studied CS? Most of the women I've met who are working in IT were initially some of those rare engineering students.
  • by SydShamino (547793) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:43AM (#40132835)

    My house, I just bought, was built in the 1940s. The filed covenants are pretty rudimentary from modern standards - can't subdivide, house must be at least 750 sq ft and worth at least $9000 - but still in the paperwork I was given is the restriction that "negros and other non-whites" can't own or live on the property - except as a servant.

    In the 40s, simply no one wanted to allow blacks to live anywhere but on the east side of town. Later when such covenants were voided, income disparity kept it that way. And with income disparity comes less time with parents/grandparents at home to help newborns get the jump start they need in education. Now the state closes schools that don't perform well - you guess it, in the "traditionally black" areas - so those kids end up getting bussed around further. Obviously there are some people so naturally gifted that they can succeed in any situation, and those people have "escaped" this cycle and do fine. But on average I don't think we've evened things up from institutional discrimination yet, so we still have to keep pushing on things to get them aligned.

    The people who wrote and signed those original covenants are long dead and buried; not buying the house from its Nth owner because of that would have been pointless.

    Also I'm posting to fix a mistaken moderation elsewhere in the thread.

  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by snowgirl (978879) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:49AM (#40132847) Journal

    Awesome post, and says everything I could say, and perhaps better than I would.

    I've had to work on my own motorcycle from time to time, and my boyfriend kind of refused to help me, knowing that self-sufficiency is better than doing everything for me. However, from time to time, he would call me over with "hey, Japanese hands", because I had the tiny hands to get at/into something that his man hands were just too big to get at.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:15AM (#40132953) Journal

    When quota system is imposed on anything you will see the effect - end product is almost guaranteed to be inferior

    What you say is true, unless there is actually a significant bias present. If it undoes the bias, then ti won't necessarily make standards go down, it could even make them go up.

    [citation needed] below, but I've lost the reference.

    I did read a study about geneder discrimination in academia, normalizing out for all different subject areas. Bottom line, everywhere except the USA (which has significant positive discrimination), women need significantly better track records to get the same job. In the USA with all its quotas etc, it's about the same.

    It would be tough to argue that standards have gone down as a result, as hiring is now done from an effectively larger pool of applicants with the same qualifications and skills.

  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by janimal (172428) on Monday May 28, 2012 @03:32AM (#40133207)

    The primates argument is a strong one against social conditioning. My wife and I both believe that women are genetically less apt to like certain types of work than men. Her IQ approaches a mensa measured 200 and she used to be far better at maths than I ever was, but she couldn't care less for maths or computers. She places the reason for it in that she's more interested in things she can directly apply to her life and to people she interacts with. Evidence of the superficiality of her not liking computers is that as soon as computers became a social tool, she began taking an interest in them more. She has always pushed for a better smartphone, and now she's doing a .com startup. She just isn't doing it for technical reasons, but for the interaction that she can get.

    I'm the opposite: I enjoy making airplane models, or thinking up abstract things I think it helps me to understand the world, but she's right to say that I don't work at the level, where the result of my work has a direct and immediate effect on life. This post, for example is a veritable waste of my practical time.

    Our conclusion is that women tend to fields that somehow include a large amount of social interaction and pragmatism, while men are perfectly fine doing things in which they can be alone and where the practicality is more removed (although not necessarily absent). More than that: women can relax in highly social work, while men are more able to relax in loner work. The ability to relax and enjoy doing something is the biggest indicator of how we are wired, as opposed to conditioned, to behave.

    IT is a lot about working alone. Even though you work in teams in IT, the large majority of guys who go into IT do not like to interact with others (the typical developer drives me nuts, when I try to get him to understand how what he's doing is practical). When I build IT teams, I find that I need both social types and loner types, with an emphasis on universality of each. The team ends up consisting of someone who speaks business and is responsible for communication and a team of folks who prefer to work semi-alone and develop based on the documented requirements. It just so happens, that it's easier to find girls to fit the business analyst role than the lone developer role. The girl analysts do like IT projects, but they like them for different reasons than the guys. The girl's ability to think logically, work hard for their money and like the IT systems we produce tends to be similar to guys, but with different emphasis.

    I think the resulting small amount of women in IT is simply because IT requires less social interaction than project management or sales. I find that women are no less driven, intelligent, and capable than men. They just gravitate to more social types of work, which IT often isn't.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Monday May 28, 2012 @04:53AM (#40133451)
    Do you have evidence that there is bias and prejudice keeping women out of IT, rather than, for instance women tending not to want to go into IT for other reasons? In The Sexual Paradox, Susan Pinker presents a lot of evidence for such other reasons (and complains about the widespread "infantilisation" of women which assumes that women are not fit to make their own career choices), although it's possible that there might be bias and prejudice as well.
  • Re:Evidence? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday May 28, 2012 @05:02AM (#40133483) Journal

    Wow, way to miss the point. If you have 10 applicants for 2 posts, 8 from one group and 2 from another and you have a quota that says you have to hire at least one from the second group, then what is the result going to be? If you have no quotas, then you will hire the two best qualified. If you assume that there is no intrinsic difference in abilities between the two sets, then there is a 20% chance that you will end up with one from the second set. If there is a quota, then there is a 100% chance that you will end up with one from the second set, meaning that there is an 80% chance that you will end up with someone less qualified with the quota than without.

    This then leads back to an ugly feedback cycle, where people are aware that the person in the second group is there instead of someone more qualified (see the caste quota system in India for examples of this) and so they grow to resent people from that group and, importantly, don't trust the competence of anyone from that group. This then makes it harder for the competent people in the group, because now they have an extra layer of prejudice against them.

    Now, if you want more members of the second group to be hired, then you need to look at the causes and address them. For example, do they encounter the relevant skills later? Are there hidden prejudices against them in hiring? Are they excluded or discouraged from participating in some relevant educational prerequisites?

  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Monday May 28, 2012 @05:33AM (#40133581)

    If so, then shouldn't we make sure the talent pool is as wide as possible?

    What, you mean by introducing quotas to enable people who wouldn't ordinarily be competent enough to get a job to get one solely based on their gender instead? I don't think that'll have the effect you're looking for.

    If a company wants better quality people, they should do one thing: raise wages. Maybe also increase annual leave, flex time, and other perks. They'll attract better people, male and female.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Monday May 28, 2012 @05:35AM (#40133591)

    But I think it's incredibly obvious that there's a bias against women in any male-dominated field, just as there's a bias against men in female-dominated fields. No one can reasonably claim that society doesn't apply a lot of gender roles in every aspect of a person's life, so any task dominated by one gender will by nature be harder to get at for the other, because the context the minority group has as less applicable.

    The "Sexual Paradox" Pinker talks about is that as women get more opportunities the number of women in traditionally male roles increases, then as they get more opportunities still it falls again, though not to original levels. My interpretation of her analysis is that the downturn happens when women's choice outweighs the effect of the bias, and this has happened in most professions in most developed countries. So although the bias probably still exists in places, it is not the dominant factor in determining the male/female ratio in most professions. Yes, it's good to tackle that bias where it exists, but the effect is unlikely to be significantly more women in those jobs (which is what tokenism attempts to address) but is more likely to be a better working environment for women. In other words, we're using the wrong measures and the result is that we're drawing the wrong conclusions and formulating the wrong policies from them.

  • by Requiem18th (742389) on Monday May 28, 2012 @05:53AM (#40133675)

    The problem with arguing for genetics it that it makes the pressumption that since women aren't genetically inclied for IT jobs, then women who DO get into IT are genetic abherrations, not true women or vastly inferior to men in the field since they are doing something for which they aren't genetically fit to.

    All these we know to be false, because there ARE women in IT, they aren't any less of a woman than women in other fields and they aren't inferior at work. On top of that is the problem that there may be social preasures at involved too, that is, regardless of wether there are or aren't genetic factors involved. And if there are social factors involved (and there always are at least some social factors involved) it's not easy to determine who's responsability is it and who most change attitudes in order to eliminate discrimination.

    But yes, I get what you mean, before we can start implementing polices to accomodate for women in IT we most first understand everything related to the case so that we don't end up overinvesting in a lost cause.

  • Except that's exactly what's not happening. Take this case. Suppose that they now start forcing N% of contracts to IT businesses run by women. Now there aren't many such businesses (regardless of the reason), which means that competition for that N% is going to be lackluster - heck, it's spelled out in TFA, pretty much.

    You don't know that -- all you've done is take a snapshot of a single instance in time, saw what you perceive to be a minima, and decided that is the nature of things now and forever.

    Conceptually, affirmative action is like a social algorithms that endures local minima, but with the design that an eventual equilibrium (or global maxima) will be generated. We have a lot of algorithms like this in computer science[0]; many optimization strategies are known to generate poor intermediary results, with the end-product being either the correct solution, or the best solution derived from the algorithm execution (ideally within some known, expected bounds)[1]. Genetic algorithms work this way: a single generation, viewed on its own, may be at a local minima, and thus an extremely poor solution. However, viewed at the end of the run after multiple generations, a better solution can be obtained (either a high local maxima, or a global maxima -- if one even exists).

    Or, put in different terms, look at one stock market index [yahoo.com]. There are many local minima over the course of the index, but the overall picture is one of growth.

    Capitalistic theory argues against you, using your very points. N% may be lackluster for a specific, given contract[2]. If the contracts are sufficiently lucrative, and there are financial benefits to be obatined from that market, then more organizations will desire to enter that market. In this case, the "market" is the artificial construct of "IT businesses owned by women"[3]. If there is money to be made, then more entrants will fill the market. If you knew there was a field where you had a significant bidding advantage because you (for sake of example) had green eyes, would you not consider entering that field and reaping the benefits?

    As more female-owned IT businesses bid for such contracts, competitive pressures will start to take effect, to the point where the local minima of "N% lackluster" is nullified. Thus, the concept is:

    1. 0. Endure potential local minima, while aiming for a global maxima,
    2. 1. As more entrants try to take advantage of the market, allow competitive pressure to improve them towards a quality maxima, and
    3. 2. Achieve your original end of social engineering the market to increase the social structure(s) needing improvement (in this case female owned businesses).

    You can't observe a local minima and then decry the entire algorithm. When it comes to social engineering, the algorithms often require multiple generations to achieve their ends; there is a good probability that it won't happen within a single lifetime. To use a local minima to judge an algorithm is illogical and narrow-minded. In this specific case, I see it as laudable to attempt to further engage women in business ownership -- there is a glass ceiling, and simply allowing things to progress as they have for the past 70 years won't change anything.

    So let the algorithm run. The competition right now may be lackluster, but as more potential female business owners learn of the opportunity, they'll enter the market to get a slice of the pie. As soon as there are multiple female owners in the market, competitive pressure will be to out-bid each other, improving the process to the point where they are indistinguishable from their male-owned competitors. They still have to meet all of the requirements of the tender, and are still expected to produce results -- and over the long term, as competitive pressure and increased female ownership takes place, an equilibrium will be achieved whereby such actions

  • Re:Evidence? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday May 28, 2012 @08:25AM (#40134249) Homepage

    The problem with this argument is you are looking at a ridiculously small group. There are hundreds of thousands of IT workers in the US, filling hundreds of thousands of jobs. With such a large sample size the "default" should be a 50/50 mix of men and women, but it is actually hugely biased one way and that deserves some scrutiny.

    The problem isn't actually with women being unable to get IT jobs, at least not more so than with any other male dominated field where there are always a few "lads club" outfits. The problem is that very few women want to enter the field in the first place. Fewer than want to become mathematicians or some kind of scientist. There has to be a reason for that, and it isn't just that "computers are boring and not pink enough".

    It works both ways too. In the UK we have a massive shortage of male primary school teachers. All sorts of theories have been put forward. Women have a natural maternal instinct. Men are worried about being accused of being paedophiles. I honestly don't know enough about the problem to comment.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday May 28, 2012 @08:31AM (#40134273) Homepage

    There are other explanations for the decline. For example as maternity rights have increased and employers have been faced with a well paid and highly skilled worker taking a year off in the middle of their career there has been some reluctance to hire women in the first place. Scare stories about frivolous sexual harassment lawsuits and so forth have not helped either.

    There has been a bit of a backlash against women in the workplace, especially in skilled roles.

  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zenyu (248067) on Monday May 28, 2012 @09:23AM (#40134527)

    As the father I see how hard the community pushes boys and girls into their gender roles. My daughter doesn't love pink because of the color, she loves it because no one calls her a boy when she wears it. She plays with cars at home, but she won't touch one when another kid is around. When she wears any dress she gets constant compliments, not so when she wears a very cute outfit consisting of a shirt and pants. And whenever we talk with other parents the talk of the "inate" characteristics of girls and boys is usually constant, even when the characteristics are obviously universal.

    It doesn't just stop at childhood either, as an involved father that stayed at home for a 18 months after my kids were born I met the most sexist women I've ever encountered on the playground. Now there were many women who weren't and I wasn't the only dad around, but even a woman I knew before, who had a kid around the same time, couldn't stop herself from saying men can't do X and women always do Y when I was doing those things everyday by choice before and after my wife went back to work. Mom's groups were also extreemely unwelcoming. I understand that they might not want to talk about their breastfeeding problems with a man around but there are a plethora of things to talk about when cooped up all day with a small child. For any mothers-to-be out there, taking a vote on whether do admit me and my kids to a playdate makes you appear about as democratic as an apartheid jury deciding if I looked white enough to join you at the pool; I won't really care which way the vote goes, I don't want my children around bigots.

    FYI I also see sexism alive and well when hiring in IT. At work we'd been interviewing for a programming position for months and finally found a decent candidate. I wanted to hire her and kept getting resistance and unqualified alternate prospects pushed at me. When I finally found out what the reservations were, it came down to "she'll be the only woman on the team and will be lonely" and "this job involves working late and it's dangerous for a woman to go home alone at night." I reminded them that as a woman in IT she is surely used to a male dominated workplace and the position rarely involves working very late, we could call a car service when it does as is company policy for all day-shift employees anyway. Luckilly she was hired, but we could have easily lost her to another company with the delay these unstated concerns caused.

  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) on Monday May 28, 2012 @10:17AM (#40134825)

    This is a brilliant comment that really sums it up. I too have seen the same problems throughout my life. Not only in IT, but as a pat time musician (also a male-dominated field) I've met many women who, if they make it, are completely on their own. As kids they were constantly excluded from the boys club of the music jam.. or discouraged or belittled for any attempts at creativity. And if they did it was always about boys trying to get into their pants. Even as an adult, as a male, I've deliberately left projects where men deliberately turned projects into boys clubs, because I'm all the more aware of the issue now. (And I find it hypocritical, because what, you to drink and smoke doobies, and you can't do that around female musicians? Rolls eyes.)

    Sexism is alive and well and rampant. Those who decry its existence are those who perpetuate it (not even intentionally, but by their sheer apathy and lack of empathy for others).

  • by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:36PM (#40135671)

    on the other hand there is no way for a male to fit into a female-dominated office.

    I don't know if that's completely true. There are 4 guys that work in my wife's office with her and about 30 other women, but you're pretty well on the mark about it being acceptable for women to harass men and not the other way around. I've been in my wife's office once when we took our new daughter in to visit my wife's coworkers and was there when one of the guys was called "sugar cake" and one of the older women slapped him on the ass. He didn't seem to mind and just harty-har-hared it up with the girls. It was obvious I was more offended than he was. If that kind of behavior was taking place in my office, regardless of weather it was a man or women, it would have reported and at the vary least the verbal offender would be retaking our mandatory sensitivity training and the physical offender would have been suspended without pay.

    I was also treated very rudely and, to my wife's embarrassment, said I was strictly there as the muscle to carry the car seat and would rather be ignored. I meant to say it jokingly, but is seemed to quickly snap the women making cat calls and remarks you'd expect a trucker to make to a pretty waitress at a truck stop back in line. Later my wife and I were told I wouldn't be allowed to visit again because "I didn't know my place" and "had over inserted my penis upsetting some of the other women". Yes my wife's manager said "penis", she was obviously upset and red in the face. If it was because of the way her employees were behaving or that I wasn't willing to let them poke fun at me, I don't know. Unfortunately my wife is the one taking the punishment, while her friends are still talking to her most of the other women are shunning her now because she "can't keep her hubby in line", which is killing her and that is the only reason I wish I had kept my mouth shut. Currently she's looking for another job while out on maternity leave, if that fails we plan to try and get her pregnant again before she goes back so she work the minimum amount of time and have another year of leave to find another job.

  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Monday May 28, 2012 @04:49PM (#40137241)
    I saw the same thing with the Mom's groups when my son was born. A single dad tried to join one of the groups my wife belonged to. About half the women started throwing a fit. They deleted their posts off the groups discussion board. Stopped going to play dates. They even went so far as to start making really nasty slanderous comments about the poor guy. Making comments to the effect of "Any man that would want to join this group must be a pervert doing it for sexual reasons." It was truly disgusting.
  • by nbauman (624611) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @12:16AM (#40139311) Homepage Journal

    You raise more points than I can answer, but let's start with the Jews.

    I'm Jewish. I read the sociology books and the history books. I worked for Jewish organizations.

    The Jews continually demanded handouts -- and got them. That's one of the reasons they succeeded.

    The big wave of Jewish immigration was during and after WWI. The established German Jewish immigrants set up an elaborate social services system, which supported all the Jews with housing, work, education, and welfare if necessary.

    New York City was heavily Jewish, and the City set up social services modeled on the Jewish (and Catholic) systems. Most significantly, they had City College, where anyone with good grades could get a free college education.

    Fast forward to 1980. Ronald Reagan was president, and he put a lot of pressure on the Soviet Union to allow Soviet Jews to emigrate. That alone was a privilege, because people from other countries -- like Mexico -- weren't able to immigrate as freely. I was living in Brooklyn at the time, and I met a lot of Soviet Jews. They got a pretty good reception. They got welfare, housing, education, job training, and job placement. It was easier for Soviet Jews off the boat to get a college education then than it is for college students today.

    A (black) friend of mine worked for the welfare department. She said that the Soviet Jews came in with a sense of entitlement -- America owed them welfare. They demanded welfare.

    I know where they were coming from. It's a Jewish tradition that the community has an obligation to provide for your welfare and get you a job.

    To their credit, a lot of Jews extend this tradition to mean that the community has an obligation to provide for the welfare of everyone, and that's why Jews who became secular and joined the broader community have been so active in demanding the same rights for everyone else.

    Prime example: The Jews were prominent in the Civil Rights movement. They basically taught the blacks how to demand and get the same thing the Jews were getting.

    On the other hand, there were Jews who didn't have that social concern for others. There's an ultra-religious orthodox community in New York City that has developed a political machine which trades bloc voting for handouts. Rudolph Giuliani had a "liason to the Jewish community" named Bruce Teitelbaum, who was in the middle of some of the worst welfare corruption in New York City, and nobody was held to account. The Orthodox Jews had families of 5, sometimes 8 children, and milked the welfare system for all it was worth. They had offices which helped people apply for welfare and get as much as they could. Teitelbaum's friends were setting up phony day care centers, and getting paid with government money for salaries of employees who didn't exist. The New York Daily News had some exposes. You can Google "Bruce Teitelbaum" and get the stories.

    One of the starkest examples of hypocrisy was the favored treatment of German Jewish slaves in Nazi Germany during WWII, compared to the black slaves in America. Our government used every lever of manipulation to get more compensation from the German and Swiss government for Jewish slaves (even though most of the money didn't go to the same people who were slaves or their descendants, and huge fees were diverted to lawyers). They demanded it and they got it. However, no major politician has supported compensation for black slaves.

    So I'm sick and tired of that excuse, "the Jews did it, why can't the blacks do it?" If (when) the blacks had the same government handouts and opportunities that Jews did, they were as successful as the Jews. And the Jews have in general wanted to share their success with everybody else.

    Unfortunately the conservatives have taken over this country and they're busy destroying the government social system that made this country so successful.

You know that feeling when you're leaning back on a stool and it starts to tip over? Well, that's how I feel all the time. -- Steven Wright

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