WWDC 2006: Misreading 'Gender Imbalance'

Sigh. Well, I guess the humor was a bit too dry in this post. It was intended as a goofy little commentary on something that we are all aware of: for whatever reason, women tend to be scarce at technical conferences. I didn't realize quite how emotional this issue is.

I thought by calling a computing platform "sensual" and referring to "future generations" of Cocoa programmers, people would get the joke. Maybe not.

Growing up and working in the Bay Area, I think I take the diverse culture here for granted. Not only is there no true majority race, but women are found in every sort of job in every level of employment. I think this is particularly true at Apple.

Some of the most amazing people I've worked with around here have been women. In the case of one online gaming service I worked for, the most talented and competent sysadmin was a woman. She more or less ran the service.

It might be that I'm so immersed in the culture here that it doesn't even occur to me that my comments might be taken the wrong way. I feel like we've sort of passed the point of hyper-sensitivity to the issue and can lightly joke about it. Maybe not, though, and it's easy to forget that the Bay Area is not necessarily like everywhere else.

Now I just hope Dan Wood blogs about his conversation with the WebKit team.
Design Element
WWDC 2006: Misreading 'Gender Imbalance'
Posted Aug 11, 2006 — 11 comments below




 

Andy Finnell — Aug 11, 06 1595

No offense, but the hyper-sensitivity is one of the reasons I left the Bay Area. You are correct in that the Bay Area isn't like everywhere else. Most places you can joke about things without worrying that someone is going to get deeply offended.

I think you just have to realize that no matter what you say, someone, somewhere will be offended, especially if you're in a diverse crowd. That, and some people just don't have a sense of humor.

I actually thought your original post was fairly amusing. I was only a little surprised when I read the comments and saw how people were reacting to it. I don't think the reaction should deter you from writing dry humor, but maybe you should give the humor-challenged a warning at the top ("Warning! Satire alert!") or tag it as satire.

In the end, just remember there are people who do appreciate dry humor. They're just not always as vocal as the people who don't.

Dan Price — Aug 11, 06 1596

Speaking for myself, it wasn't so much your particular post that I found troubling, but rather what I perceive as a growing, negative social attitude towards women; particularly in the sciences and on the Net. The 'omg a girl!' attitude. This is 2006, not 1906. I can picture the scene you described at the WWDC as male attendees scrambled to find the source of that voice, and I am ashamed.

Scott Stevenson — Aug 11, 06 1597 Scotty the Leopard

I can picture the scene you described at the WWDC as male attendees scrambled to find the source of that voice, and I am ashamed

It wasn't quite that bad. The same thing happens when a well-known developer steps up to the mic.

Dan — Aug 12, 06 1602

OK, it's not worth a blog post, but I'll follow up. I was talking to a female engineer on the WebKit team, discussing the Apple Design Awards and how there were so many entrants for so few general-application categories. I suggested that the WebKit team have its own awards, and they could be called the "WebKitties."

The reaction was unexpected and priceless. My idea was drowned out by gleeful exclamations and immediate planning by the women on the WebKit team (of which, I'm pleased to say, seems to be much higher proportion than other groups at Apple or in Silicon Valley in general) want to call themselves the "WebKitties" which eventually settled on "WebKittens".

I returned to the area a while later, and by that time, it seemed that the whole team had decided to call themselves "WebKats" (males) and "WebKittens" (females)....

Samo — Aug 13, 06 1603

"Speaking for myself, it wasn't so much your particular post that I found troubling, but rather what I perceive as a growing, negative social attitude towards women; particularly in the sciences and on the Net. The 'omg a girl!' attitude. This is 2006, not 1906. I can picture the scene you described at the WWDC as male attendees scrambled to find the source of that voice, and I am ashamed."

Gosh! That's exactly the reason why I wouldn't post anything to retract the statements or even to excuse myself, were I Scott. The whole "omg politically correct" behaviour is one of the most stupid behaviours I am seeing with geeks.

Where are the women that feel the way you guys "defending" them feel? Seriously, the women can hold up for themselves quite well, the whole protective stance a lot of people are taking here just shows that deep inside none of you guys trusts a woman to be a) able to defend herself or b) to be confident enough about her abilities to take it for what it is a humorous comment.

I can't fscking believe people are "ashamed" for others to be interested in a woman asking an interesting question. Don't you think that the woman herself might take it all as a compliment?

Scott, that's not a problem of Bay Area or no Bay Area. It's a problem that exists everywhere, where people think they need to be overprotective of women in fields that do not include cooking or childcare, because they still think these girls "have it harder". The only thing that makes their lives harder is others acting like they're not even able to survive a "omg girls!!" comment.

There are not enough girls at the WWDC. If there were, socially awkward geeks would know that they can handle it all quite well themselves.

Samo — Aug 13, 06 1604

Oh, one more thing. I find women to be easier to work within a tech environment. They don't have the need to "prove" themselves like men usually do. They are rather interested in the correct solution than their masculinity being at stake when someone questions their decisions. Too bad their work environment often includes at least one (pathetic) male trying to look good by belittling them.

Not Woman — Aug 13, 06 1607

Andy, old boy:

<blockquote> the hyper-sensitivity is one of the reasons I left the Bay Area.</blockquote>

You have to admit, groping the help had something to do with it, too.

<blockquote> Most places you can joke about things without worrying that someone is going to get deeply offended</blockquote>

When you say most places, do you mean the Golf Course for Rich Fatties, the marketing meeting full of cokehead fratboys, or the nude wrestling pit at the strip joint?

<blockquote>I think you just have to realize that no matter what you say, someone, somewhere will be offended, especially if you're in a diverse crowd. That, and some people just don't have a sense of humor.</blockquote>

In fact, at most wingut gatherings, this is usually followed up with a 'tasteless' negro joke, just to demonstrate that everyone there won't be offended by an egregiously anachronistic and racist outlook on life.

<blockquote>In the end, just remember there are people who do appreciate dry humor. They're just not always as vocal as the people who don't.</blockquote>

Hey, it's a great day to be holier-than-thou and tar a whole webload of strangers with the same dull brush. Let's see if we agree with this quote or not:

"Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream."

In the end, let's assume we're better than other people, because we were born with Teh Godliness, and the heathens can eat pesticide-laced cake. And so can women.

And if you don't like my post, I get to say (wait for it) 'some people have no sense of humor!' OMG L0L!!

On a serious note, it's the internet. You may have an audience that crosses CULTURES on the planet Earth, not just geeks within your subgroup of geeks on your wavelength. You cannot assume anything about the state of mind of your readers. They may barely understand the language (oops, sorry; I hope I didn't just set Andy off on a rant. All them furriners must speaks english!).

Adam Knight — Aug 26, 06 1624

It's not a lack of a sense of humor "Not a Woman" .. it's about sanity at this point. The whole idea of integration is that no one is treated differently. By having random people take random offense at common situations perceived as funny, or even just curious, integration is demonstratively broken.

I was there, and having one woman for 250 men <i>was</i> something you noticed fairly quickly. I also noticed that Omni beat the statistics (good for them) and that there was at least one company with five ladies and one man. It's a curiosity, and one that will get mentioned. I think that if someone flies off the handle about it then they really don't share the feeling of "This is odd..." that many attendees had. No sense berating someone for it or their confusion when people don't get it.
You could have known that dry humour doesn't flow very well on the tubes of the internets.

Dan: Score!

NotAWoman — Sep 03, 06 1720

I find it amazing that males, rife with testosterone, will pounce on other males for not being sufficiently politically correct. Its the male insecurity and ego complex that causes them to do this, and rather strutting around showing their strength, its strutting aroudn showing how sensitive they are-- but its really just posturing.

Any woman with any sense was not offended by your post. And any male who criticized you was acting like a neandrathal preening before the other males.

Political Correctness is just another form of bigotry.

LKM — Sep 11, 06 1781

I can't fscking believe people are "ashamed" for others to be interested in a woman asking an interesting question. Don't you think that the woman herself might take it all as a compliment?

Well, I don't know about that particular person, but a woman I know studied computer science with me. She now works at a software company where obviously, most of her colleagues are male, and she told me several times that she's thinking about working in a different, non-programming business where there aren't that many males. She doesn't feel well for different reasons - the constant, unbelieving stares at conventions and inter-company meetings being one of them. Generally, women don't take being stared at as a compliment.


Political Correctness is just another form of bigotry.

Yeah, and not insulting others is for weaklings, huh? Geez, show at least a little bit of respect for other human beings.




 

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