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Changing the Ratio of Women In Tech: How Etsy Did It 546

Posted by samzenpus
from the breaking-the-glass-ceiling dept.
First time accepted submitter occidental writes in about Etsy's push to get more women engineers. "You’ve probably heard of Etsy, the bustling online marketplace for crafters and artists. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most of its customers are women, both buyers and sellers. Ditto that the Etsy team is a pretty good representation of the Earth’s gender ratio. Yet when Marc Hedlund took the helm of Etsy’s Product Development & Engineering department, 97% of the engineering department were men. Hedlund realized that in his nearly two decades in IT, he’s hired no more than 20 women for engineering positions. This began to bother him. Especially after his daughter was born."
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Changing the Ratio of Women In Tech: How Etsy Did It

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  • Re:It's to bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RussR42 (779993) on Friday April 19, 2013 @08:32AM (#43491637)
    Obligatory xkcd (Although something seems to have gone wrong, it's an SMBC [smbc-comics.com])
  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday April 19, 2013 @08:52AM (#43491853)
    American History X, the flashback scene around the dinner table when a young Derek Vinyard is talking to his dad about the Affirmative Action policy at the firestation. If you take out the racial slurs, you can't help but see the guy's point. Would you want someone of lower capability than an other applicant working on your team just because some bureaucrat thinks a quota of $gender/race is the correct way to bring diversity to the workplace? It is even the correct kind of diversity? Diversity of experience, opinion, skillset, or interest is surely something better to strive towards.

    On the other hand, we have the Catch 22 of women not working in $Career, so girls don't take an interest in $Career at an early age, meaning women don't apply for jobs in $Career. Is it the fault of society for not making careers in, say, engineering more glamorous? Should we push hard for intellect being more attractive than physical appearance? Should we stop seeing a chosen occupation as inherently masculine or feminine? Is it upbringing or genetic predisposition?

    This is why Sociology exists.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday April 19, 2013 @10:07AM (#43492987) Journal

    Affirmative action also has some nasty negative side effects. First, if people are aware of it, then there is a perception that anyone in the group that is being discriminated in favour of got there because of it. If you have to hire a woman for a particular job, and the best qualified woman has ten years more experience than the nearest-qualified man, better references, and does much better in the interview, then she will still have to fight the perception from people who weren't directly involved in the hiring that she only got the job because of her gender.

    Beyond that, if people in group X have lower standards of entry into job Y, then the average quality of people of group X performing job Y will be lower. People will notice this, and assume that it's because people in group X suck at Y. It then becomes much harder for the ones that are capable and qualified.

    You don't get more competent people into a job by fostering the perception that they aren't able to do it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 19, 2013 @10:36AM (#43493405)

    Bullshit. Sure, in a vacuum where qualified women weren't turned down more often, paid less, and generally discriminated against.

    Your "no preferential treatment" environment doesn't exist. Men already get preferential treatment due to societal oppression; the "preferential treatment" you're railing against is an attempt to balance a very tilted scale.

  • by Vaphell (1489021) on Friday April 19, 2013 @11:00AM (#43493697)

    no, not really.
    You can't blame nordic countries for sexism or discrimination, yet in Norway they still have only 10% female engineers. Paradoxically, the more people are free, the more likely they are to pursue stereotypical gender roles.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ2xrnyH2wQ [youtube.com] @5:30, 29:30

  • by Alomex (148003) on Friday April 19, 2013 @11:40AM (#43494149) Homepage

    Would you want someone of lower capability than an other applicant working on your team just because some bureaucrat thinks a quota of $gender/race is the correct way to bring diversity to the workplace?

    I dunno, you seem perfectly comfortable with a bunch of undeserving white professionals who got there simply because they were born in first/second base thanks to past discrimination and they would not have made it at all, had they started from the dug out, like a kid from the ghetto.

  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Friday April 19, 2013 @11:47AM (#43494239)

    From my experience, if you have a 100% homogenous workforce (e.g. all male, or all CS absolvents) adding a single "outsider" will have a negative effect on work environment.

    The positive effects of diversity will settle in later, if you established something closer to true diversity.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday April 19, 2013 @06:01PM (#43498835)

    Hopefully in the future when the balance is closer to 50/50 it will be.

    Why does it need to be 50/50? Why exactly do we need 50% of people in IT to be female?

    Before you fire off an answer to that question, consider these questions: why don't we have a 50/50 ratio in other professions, such as nursing and elementary school teaching, and daycare work? And why isn't there a giant push to fix this "problem"? Why is it not a problem that men who try to become kindergarten teachers are highly discriminated against (they're seen as potential molesters), and that there's no big push to equalize the gender distribution in this profession? However, for IT and many other jobs which women apparently aren't that interested in, there's all kinds of debate about and pushing for equalization. Is grade school (e.g. K-8) teaching not important to society? If anything, it seems like it should be considered more important to society than working some boring IT job at some megacorporation. But instead, it's seen as pathetic, and only fit for women, and so no one cares that there's almost no men in it, and that any men who do try to go into it are reviled.

    I don't see why we should push to have more women in male-only jobs as long as there's no equal push to have more men in female-only jobs.

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