[techtalk] career/family question

Linda Walsh law at sgi.com
Tue Feb 15 20:07:46 EST 2000

"Tania M. Morell" wrote:
  > why does it matter who's male, female, or other? I'd have to say
  > that one of my personal goals as a feminist is to have gender
  > not matter at all... but some of you seem to feel differently.
  > can you explain why?
  > shane

> I've also got to say that this goal is going to be very difficult to
> reach.
> Men and women may be equivalent, but we're not equal. Equal would imply
> that we're the same, and we're not. Not physically, not mentally and not
> emotionally. That's a fact and gender will always matter in one way or
> another.

    Dunno if I want to do this...but...

    No one is "equal" in every way with everyone else -- well, maybe genetic twins,
but the difference between queen elizabeth and prince charles is probably less than the
difference between the queen and a pygmy woman in africa.

    It's difficult to absolutely, categorically compare the two genders when
there is no single "line".  To say all women are different from all men calls on
stereotypes and classification.  Individually some men may fit the standard woman
definition more closely than some women and vice versa.  Nevertheless, there seem to
be biological "tendancies" for a given sex.  The harm comes in assuming that the whole
sex has a given tendancy and making pre-judgements based on that.

    Also it's very difficult under the *current* regime for woman to be "equal" to men
even if it were biologically possible.  There are things that women experience in open
society far more than men -- such as rape.  Men are more likely to be victims of all
other violent crimes.  The perpetrator in both cases, however, has about a 90% chance of
being a man.   Men don't have to worry about getting pregnant.  Men don't have to
worry about losing control over their own body by having abortion rights ending.  Note
that all of the leaders and most anti-abortionists are men.  Men as a group don't have
to worry about glass ceilings and pay discrepancies.

    In the high tech industry, things look equal on the surface.  However, why am I the
only woman in my group.  Moving up a level to the director level -- we have a large
group lunch on fridays for everyone under that director.  She and I are the only two women.
Due to either biology or social conditioning, more women don't meet or want to meet the
standard of being an engineer here.  My last director, upon losing my position via a re-org
suggested I look elsewhere in the company rather than core engineering -- like "customer
support" or "marketing".  Nope -- no stereotyping here...no sirree!   Testing is another area
where we'll see more women.  IS support and phone support here, I'll see more women.  But
core engineering?  Darn few.

    We've had exactly 1 woman at the VP level (non above).  She was eventually forced out
because she didn't play in the ol' boys network.

    When I hired on, I was interviewed by no women -- I did meet with a woman from HR --
another place where women are shunted to.  The review qualifications here used to include
"willing to take risks -- bigger=better", "become a well-known leader in your area -- higher
up, greater the area"  -- how many women do you know that are well-known in the Linux
community?  FSF?  It's not something women excel at (for whatever reason).  As such, it
is a sex-biased trait.  The same with taking risks -- another sex-biased trait.  Using those
as assessment criteria work against women -- especially since we're all ranked and rated
next to each other.  It'd by like rating on congeniality -- have you ever heard of Mr. Congeniality
award?  Things have moved away from those explicit criteria, but attitudes still remain.

    So...all of that is why you can't just look at men and women as "equal" in today's
world.  There are tons of other examples, but that's enough for now -- gotta get home
to my partner.  :-)


techtalk at linuxchix.org   http://www.linuxchix.org

More information about the Techtalk mailing list