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mimulus_borogove ([personal profile] mimulus_borogove) wrote2008-06-16 12:50 pm
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Fascinating article on women's careers (or lack thereof) in technology

Computerworld posted a riveting look into why women leave technology careers. The main reason is not starting families, but getting fed up with being harassed or belittled at work. There are more reasons, too, some of which seem related.  Having worked in a tech-related industry, I would say that this looks accurate.

The mentoring idea is interesting, too. I have learned from both men and women on the job, but I am especially grateful to a senior woman who took the time to teach me little things I needed to know. I used to get annoyed at the "we must all band together" idea, but I did find that many of my biggest breaks came when I had someone going to bat for me, saying, "She can handle that." Often, it was another woman who was my champion. (And it seems I didn't disappoint anybody, since those projects often grew in scope or became regular assignments.) It's sad to me that a company should need a little subculture to help valuable workers survive, but  if the culture isn't very inclusive to start with, then it becomes a good idea. I think what Cisco's doing is smart.

I'm not trying to create a man-bashing situation here. Maleness is not a bad thing. What I find interesting here isn't that tech environments are man-filled or manly, but that they're macho. That speaks to me of young hires and of a failure to create a truly professional work environment. It gets me thinking, what are companies doing wrong? Are they so anxious to get the talent that they're letting too many people behave like spoiled rock stars? And when women come up with their own networks in a male-dominated department, do we end up with more problems based on that division?

[identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com 2008-06-17 03:38 pm (UTC)(link)
I've been thinking about this since reading it yesterday. First, I wonder what, in the majority, these women are going into after leaving tech and science. And did they find it to be better? I wonder if things are actually worse than in any other male-dominated field, and if they left to go to another one, to stay home, or to go into a female-dominated profession.

I'm wondering if it's not really a factor of the type of men in these professions, but rather that they continue to be dominated by one gender, and any field that is has the same problems. They factors of needing to take more risks and work longer hours may not be the same in every profession, but to be top-notch in any you've got to do the 70-hour weeks, I think. And in any, men are more rewarded or less punished for that risk-taking behavior, I think.

In ministry, there's a lot of stories about the macho attitudes that the first women ministers in our denomination encountered. But now we're more than 50% women, so the scales have tipped. That has its downside, too. There's a sense that the influx of women into the profession has de-professionalized it. That is, since women's work is given less respect, and now this is more women's work, it's given less respect. We didn't gain the respect by going into the profession, we brought the profession down to women's level.

I've seen that in my own church, and in ways having to do with, of course, salary. I honestly think they would be embarrassed to pay a man with a family what they pay me. And I think that a man wouldn't do it. So here we are--win-win!

[identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com 2008-06-17 07:51 pm (UTC)(link)
You raise several good questions. The worst environment I ever worked in was a small sales office. I don't think the problem was that the owners were men or that the staff was basically two men plus me. I think it was that as business owners, they thought they could have the work environment they enjoyed: a locker room. Ribald, misogynistic jokes were part of the territory --and I heard one of them telling these jokes to repeat customers, so maybe it didn't occur to them them that what they thought was bonding with a male customer was rather rude to the woman at the next desk.

And at that same job, there was a female-dominated business (transcriptionists, I think) next door. The giggles and shrieks we heard through the walls didn't sound all that professional, either. So that seems to illustrate your point.

What a sad thing for your profession. One question, though: How do you know that it's become less respected because women are in it? Could there be other factors at work? Maybe that it's easy to get at least a college education, so there's less respect for the schoolin', and that people less religious than, say, a hundred years ago (at least, that's what I assume).

It's not possible to keep every workplace and department 50-50, but I do wonder what could be done to establish camaraderie without excluding part of the staff.
Edited 2008-06-17 20:24 (UTC)

[identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com 2008-06-18 02:21 am (UTC)(link)
What a sad thing for your profession. One question, though: How do you know that it's become less respected because women are in it? Could there be other factors at work? Maybe that it's easy to get at least a college education, so there's less respect for the schoolin', and that people less religious than, say, a hundred years ago (at least, that's what I assume).

Yeah, there's definitely no way to know what is the result of the "feminization of the ministry" and what is a result of cultural shift. There's definitely less authority given to religious professionals in general, regardless of generation, than there was a few decades ago. That's true for teachers, doctors, and lawyers, too. And probably there's less of an education difference between a minister who as a master's (or in my case doctorate) and the average layperson, where now the vast majority of congregants in UU churches have at least a bachelor's, and a very large percentage have graduate degrees, as well.

One good example is the increased secretarial duties of ministers, which I understand is shared by other professions, as well. There was a time when a doctor or professor or minister wouldn't be expected to type themselves, and a secretary did that. Did feminization of the professions or the increase of the computer age lead to the increase in clerical duties amongst professionals? Probably it's less about women for this particular than about other factors in the workforce.

But, nonetheless, I do think there's something to the argument from gender as genesis of disrespect, as well. One reason I believe it is that I hear my male colleagues arguing this, not just the women. They believe that the feminization of the clergy has led to less respect for clergy. Maybe it's that people are less likely to see the clergy person as a stand-in for God when she's a woman. :)

Beyond overall disrespect for the profession, however, I also have felt a level of disrespect for me as a professional in some instances that I feel would not be leveled at a male, either because the person would have more respect for a man, or because a man would be better at commanding the respect. A couple of years ago I had an argument with my board president wherein I said I wouldn't make the coffee, and he said, "well, just exactly what are you willing to do, then?" I don't drink coffee, and making coffee is where I draw the line. Of course, I also draw it at cleaning the church toilets. I'm sorry, it's just not my job.

[identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com 2008-06-19 12:28 am (UTC)(link)
I think that there are fewer secretaries to go around now, actually. That used to be one of the few jobs open to women, and now most women don't want it any more. Not for long, anyway.

Heh. Making coffee is such a loaded thing. Once I started at a new job and one of my female co-workers told me it was my job to make it, so I did. When someone in a similar job found out, she went ballistic. "You know whose job it is to make coffee? The first person who wants coffee, that's who!" We eventually got to that, and it worked fine.
auros: (Cooking)

[personal profile] auros 2008-06-21 12:54 am (UTC)(link)
I've always usurped the job of making coffee, where I could, because I've always made better coffee than 99% of my co-workers. :-P

[identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com 2008-06-21 10:28 pm (UTC)(link)
There you go, then. It really shouldn't be an office status issue.

And now that you mention it, I usually ask coffee-drinking guests to make their own so it can be the way they like it. They never seem to mind.

[identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com 2008-06-18 02:24 am (UTC)(link)
regardless of generation
meant regardless of gender... :)

and

minister who as a master's
is just my cockney accent coming out, and left the apostrophe off of 'as.

Maleness is A-OK

(Anonymous) 2008-06-18 06:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, thank you for deigning to declare that maleness is not a bad thing. I mean, we're so used to apologizing for being born male. But "macho" is a bad thing.

To whom? You?

Re: Maleness is A-OK

[identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com 2008-06-18 07:09 pm (UTC)(link)
"Machismo" was the term used in the article. They seemed to be using it to describe behaviors.

I wasn't trying to be condescending. Men and women are just people, after all. I just wanted to make clear that I don't have a problem with men in general. I thought the article was correct in many places, but I disagree with the assumption that the problem is with men per se. I think the real problem is unprofessional behavior.

Do I know you? It's much easier to have conversations with people who identify themselves.
auros: (Fizgig!)

Re: Maleness is A-OK

[personal profile] auros 2008-06-21 12:57 am (UTC)(link)
*facepalm*

Some days I am embarrassed on behalf of my gender. (The Kathy Sierra affair was a particular low point.)

No, scratch that, I'm embarrassed on behalf of the whole damn human race. Rude, supercilious people suck.

Re: Maleness is A-OK

[identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com 2008-06-21 10:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Eh, don't be embarrassed. You didn't do it.

After giving the previous commenter about a day to follow up, I finally disabled anonymous commenting. I held off on that for a long time, thinking I'd get more interesting blog comments if folks could post anonymously, but the few anonymous comments I've gotten have been either a) spam, b) phishing, or c) rude. Oh well. Live and learn.
auros: (Abelian Grape)

Re: Maleness is A-OK

[personal profile] auros 2008-06-22 06:26 am (UTC)(link)
I have anon and non-friend comments set to be screened until I unscreen or reply. That strongly discourages trolls. I get occasional spam comments (maybe one every two weeks to a month), which nobody but me sees; I delete and flag them.