August 11, 2017

What if you have a "these are not my people" response to your job?

You may have seen Megan McArdle's excellent column, "As a Woman in Tech, I Realized: These Are Not My People/The Google memo, saying women aren't very into engineering, reached a similar conclusion."

When McArdle was in her mid-20s, she worked as a technology consultant in finance. She left the job not because was "very male-centric" (which it was), but because she realize that she was psychically different from the other people in a way that would make it harder for her to succeed and to feel good in the process:
... I came into work one Monday morning and joined the guys at our work table, and one of them said “What did you do this weekend?”

I was in the throes of a brief, doomed romance. I had attended a concert that Saturday night. I answered the question with an account of both. The guys stared blankly. Then silence. Then one of them said: “I built a fiber-channel network in my basement,” and our co-workers fell all over themselves asking him to describe every step in loving detail.

At that moment I realized that fundamentally, these are not my people. I liked the work. But I was never going to like it enough to blow a weekend doing more of it for free. Which meant that I was never going to be as good at that job as the guys around me....
It's a great personal anecdote, and we're consuming it knowing that when McArdle bailed out she got into another line of work and it seems to have worked out quite well for her. If she's had any "these are not my people" moments in her career as a columnist, she's not telling.

Some of us might have responses like this wherever we go. Much has been written on the "imposter syndrome," which seems awfully similar. Often we look around and see that other people seem happier, more well adjusted, more perfectly slotted into this job that feels like a job to us. But you don't see the inside of the minds of other people.

For example, when McArdle spoke of her weekend of "throes" of "romance" and saw on their faces only blankness, what was behind that blankness" More blankness? Maybe inside they were screaming:

Throes! Romance! Where are my throes? Where's my romance? A single smile of romance would mean so much to me and she's shrugging off whole throes of romance as if it's nothing! Doomed! Doomed! She says. But I'm the one who's doomed! I don't even have a doomed romance! What I would give for one weekend — one Sunday morning — of even doomed romance! Throes?! What are throes? Orgasms? Or is it something more, with a woman? What could it be? How could I ever know? Throes? Even one throe! Could I ever offer myself to the sublime Megan McArdle? No, I am doomed. Don't let her see that I want even the doomed romance, even for one quarter of a weekend. Don't let her know. Maintain a blank stare, like the other men — all of us, bereft of romance, bereft of throes. Oh, that poor geek saying he built a fiber-channel network in his basement over the weekend, as if his abject loserhood could make Megan smile. Megan, smile at me. I want weekend throes! But what a loser I am! At least, let's prop up our ridiculous brother who resorted to self-deprecation. So desperate. But I'm desperate too. Let me help cover up the desperation that guy let slip. That could have been me. I'm embarrassed for him. You'll never impress Megan like that. I wouldn't be surprised if she left this job thinking that she just doesn't belong here, that nobody wants to talk about relationships, that we're happy blowing the weekend wiring a basement. Megan, we're not happy! Help us, Megan! Tell us about the throes and the doom and the romance!

175 comments:

Bonkti said...

Bros and throes not a thing?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Maybe inside they were screaming...

No. No they were not.

mockturtle said...

She is the kind of twit I wouldn't want to work with and I totally understand their reaction.

buwaya said...

The male mind simply doesnt work this way.
Or not most of them.

The object of longing would be proximate and immediate, i.e. the 20-something Ms. McArdle herself, entirely independent of what she has to say. Or rather, whatever she says is irrelevant, inconsiderable, beyond the fact of her presence.

And the techno-glee is real.

rcocean said...

Uh, she probably would've gotten the same reaction from any group of guys at work.

First, lots of people don't want to hear about their co-workers love life or their religion. TMI.

Second, most men don't care about other people's sex lives, just their own.

Third, in these kind of lunch situations, you're supposed to say something funny, interesting, or work related. Depressing everyone with a tale of your failed romance? Not quite the right subject.

mockturtle said...

Let's say I had an [unlikely] desire to work as a garage mechanic. The guys who worked with me might discuss tearing down an engine on their day off and others would understand. So if I start discussing my romantic weekend at the beach, they are supposed to be interested?

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

From the article:

... Thinking back to those women I knew in IT, I can't imagine any of them would have spent a weekend building a fiber-channel network in her basement.

I’m not saying such women don’t exist; I know they do. I’m just saying that if they exist in equal numbers to the men, it’s odd that I met so very many men like that, and not even one woman like that, in a job where all the women around me were obviously pretty comfortable with computers. We can’t blame it on residual sexism that prevented women from ever getting into the field; the number of women working with computers has actually gone down over time. And I find it hard to blame it on current sexism. No one told that guy to go home and build a fiber-channel network in his basement; no one told me I couldn’t. 1 It’s just that I would never in a million years have chosen to waste a weekend that way.



Wrong think alert! Wrong think alert! No you didn't! Delete! Exterminate! Racist! Mind Crime!

rcocean said...

And she is kind of a twit. She had a gap in teeth for years. Why she didn't get it fixed is anyone's guess.

rcocean said...

Seriously, how many women would rather work with things/abstract concepts (fixing, building, analyzing, etc) as opposed to working with words/people?

buwaya said...

Gap in teeth can be fascinating.
Male attraction can work in odd ways, especially in person as opposed to media images.

richlb said...

I've known people like this. I have a lot of tech-geek friends who work in the business. I always tell them that they have the perfect job - they get paid to do the same things they would sit at home and do if unemployed.

Quayle said...

Althouse! Deciphering the mind of a tech nerd.

Will wonders never cease?!?

Gahrie said...

As a teacher, I experience the 'theses are not my people" thing all of the time. I can actually deal with all the leftwing ideology, but the incredible ignorance does wear on me.

Curious George said...

"I was in the throes of a brief, doomed romance."

Translation: Eventually the dude was going to sober up.

Nonapod said...

The most likely reason behind the blank stares was simple bemusement without any animus. They didn't know how to respond and didn't feel comfortable attempting to fumble through some sympathetic words that may only make everyone more uncomfortable. But that doesn't mean they didn't feel sympathy. With technically minded people like engineers, Occam's Razor cuts most cleanly.

Henry said...

Imposter syndrome?

I mostly don't watch television. That's 90% of office talk.

Unknown said...

" the number of women working with computers has actually gone down over time"

Wasn't computer science considered kind of a girly major a couple of decades ago?

Ralph L said...

I don't think I want to know what brought forth that cri-de-coeur.
Ignorance is often bliss.

Unknown said...

I'm not sure it was ethical for Maureen Dowd to hijack Althouse's blog.

Henry said...

It's interesting to see what people around do talk about socially. Television, vacations, art, food, personal training, job, kids, pets. The guy at the coffee shop in the train station invariably has a sports trivia question for me.

richlb said...

@ unknown - " the number of women working with computers has actually gone down over time"
Wasn't computer science considered kind of a girly major a couple of decades ago?

That's back when it was called "data entry".

Henry said...

One thing about working in programming is that the industry moves faster than your current project. If you aren't doing something in your free time, you are falling behind.

mockturtle said...

rcocean asks: Seriously, how many women would rather work with things/abstract concepts (fixing, building, analyzing, etc) as opposed to working with words/people?

Few, but some.

Otto said...

Ann still clearing her throat: unfair labor laws, science not social justice, science not interesting and now science field composed of nerdy, sex impotent men. Always remember feminism was not started because a brilliant girl was rejected by MIT for being a women but was started because a whore wanted to be unencumbered by a baby so that she can continue whoring for her dope addiction. Keep clearing your throat, there is a lot of phlegm.

Big Mike said...

I read McArdle's article when she first published it, and I get the point. richlib is right -- the men she was working with live, breathe, eat, and drink fiddling around with technology. Long term she can compete by understanding them, being able to organizing them, and becoming their manager.

Rumpletweezer said...

I felt the same way in college when I saw the other people who were planning to go to law school. I decided not to go.

chuck said...

> that we're happy blowing the weekend wiring a basement.

Of course he was happy, better than sex ;) You have never had a romantic dream where the characters were mathematical abstractions? Sad!

chuck said...

> Television, vacations, art, food, personal training, job, kids, pets.

Reminds me of a student who shared an elevator with a bunch of potential physics Nobel prize winners. He was stunned that conversation was about hockey.

Bob Ellison said...

The harsh criticism in these comments directed toward McArdle is weird. She's an excellent writer who knows tech, economics, and some politics, and stops short of saying stupid things she knows nothing about.

Obviously I like her stuff. Sometimes not what I want to read, but always well crafted. I wonder how many critics here have read much McArdle.

Feste said...

~
The guy responses aimed at hot-wiring Megan’s basement beyond its frigid setting, because they were her people, her support group, they invited her imposter demon into their deep basements, offering her tragic weekendus-interruptus cool networked consolations, but she didn’t even feel their empathy, and moved on into a career that daily straddles their socket support.

Bob Ellison said...

When I was in college, studying lots of Russian history and "Sovietology", I had a "these are not my people" moment when I realized many of the undergrads around me were studying the Russian language and the grad students were often fluent. Kinda terrifying. And outside there, the other gov majors were policy wonks who were steeped in complex stats math.

Fernandinande said...

what was behind that blankness

They were thinking "so what and who cares?" I know.

Maybe inside they were screaming:

You actually screamed that nonsense, not them.

buwaya said...

"Data Entry" was a specific skill, and it was an "IT" job, but they certainly didnt give out a Bachelor of Science for it.

A couple of things happened since the early 80's - just speculationg, but all of these probably played a role -

More women (and men) went to college, it wasn't just those with the chops for the difficult majors. And the non-technical courses became much less demanding, in order to fill the rolls. So the proportions changed.

Those extra men also disproprtionately gravitated to tech, displacing some of the women who were marginal there.

The IT industry used to be all mainframe data processing, where procedures and organization were the thing, and you could live off Cobol for a whole career. When it exploded in the 80's analysis and problem-solving and speed of change made it a different world.

tcrosse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
campy said...

Of course, if the male coworkers had engaged Megan in conversation about her love life, their risk of harassment charges would have been very high.

buwaya said...

As for young women in a male environment, I think they are good for morale.
A pretty, cheerful young lady brightens up the day, and a wise manager should consider that factor.

Note - "cheerful".

tcrosse said...

Bob Ellison at 11:22 beat me to it. I agree with every word of it.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I think when most single guys hear a cute girl talking about her doomed romance, what's going on inside their head is more along the lines of, "maybe now I have chance!"

DTR said...

The first thing I thought of: Althouse is semi-channeling Laslo.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

How do we know McArdle's anecdote ever really happened? She's the only source given for it and it just happens to support her larger point? Did her editors or anyone at Bloomberg get any of her old co-workers to go on the record and confirm what happened and what was said? Nothing's included there, so we should assume either they couldn't find any of the coworkers in question or they found the anecdote to fit in with their preconceptions so they didn't bother trying.

You're highly skeptical of this anecdote, right Professor? You assume it didn't happen, I'm sure.

Ann Althouse said...

"First, lots of people don't want to hear about their co-workers love life or their religion. TMI."

I agree that many people don't want to hear about it. But when they indicate they don't want to hear about it by giving you a blank stare, you can't assume they are deeply interested in having sexual experiences like the one they don't want to hear about. They might care very much and feel very envious. I assume the men want sex and that they want a real companion in life and suffer when they don't have it, even if they blunt their suffering by masturbating, playing video games, and talking about wiring the basement.

Annie C said...

When I got a break at work and clicked on Althouse, I read this post and immediately thought, "Oh please let Laslo weigh in on this one!"

No I'll go back and read the comments.

buwaya said...

Envy doesnt come into it (hey, I am a mere data point, but I doubt I am unique). Or rarely anyway. There are freaks of course.

Its more of "I want this one now".

We are very simple really.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Also--McArdle's point is about her former job/profession and how underlying (population) variance btw men and women might skew the sample population of people inhabiting those jobs, esp. at a high level.
She claims her current job's characteristics make that alleged population variance less meaningful.
Ok.

Had she been a Google employee and written this same thing, and been fired for it, would you have objected to that, Professor? Would you have labeled her story and its argument (that there do exist differences in the distribution of certain traits btw men & women, and that those differences play a role in the relative numbers of employees in a given job/field) as amateurish, or ludicrous?

chuck said...

> I assume the men want sex and that they want a real companion in life

Very different things, and very age dependent. The sex thing starts around age 12-14, the companion thing starts late twenties, early thirties.

bagoh20 said...

The sexes share a lot, but I think very very few women understand a man's mind, how much of a weird factory it is, some of it very ugly, some heroic, but a lot of it just very very different. Even after six decades of living in one, I'm still amazed at how little I know my way around in here. There are rooms where strange things happen, and while I usually just walk by trying to ignore the ruckus behind the door, I sometimes find myself in there, naked, doing unexplained things and not recognizing the faces in the mirror.

Sex is one of the biggest differences. I'm sure both sexes wish they could tell the other what they really think about, but then you realize they won't get it, so we play around the edges and live much of it inside our own brains, and thinking maybe it's all for the best we keep this to ourselves.

CStanley said...

I think it's reasonable to assume that the blankness was sort of an embarrassed TMI response.

Also reasonable to speculate that the guys envied her social life but had a coping mechanism that worked well for them.

Or that they really didn't care much one way or the other, but didn't have either interest or personal experience in order to commiserate with her circumstances.

Lots of possibilities. But the bottom line is that part of job satisfaction comes from social interactions with peers, and when there's a large mismatch between people it's not fun. This is true whether it's a gender gap, age gap, socioeconomic gap, or married/single gap.

It's also stupid to think that a company's hiring practices can correct for the mismatches that will inevitably occur though, or that people should have a right to be protected against these situation.

Freeman Hunt said...

Why the negativity in these comments toward McArdle?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

They might care very much and feel very envious.I assume the men want sex and that they want a real companion in life and suffer when they don't have it, even if they blunt their suffering by masturbating, playing video games, and talking about wiring the basement.

Who said they weren't married or didn't have fulfilling relationships?
The question wasn't "what is important in your life and what existential need do you feel you lack?" The question was "what'd you do last weekend?"
Why assume those men lack the thing you assume they care about?
What if they're happily married and thus don't think about reporting their marital status and goings-on as part of what they did?

You're married--if I ask what you did last weekend would you say "Well I'm still married so all the time I spent doing my weekend activities was done in the secure bliss that only a long-term, loving relationship can provide...I went for a drive and played with the neighbor's dogs with my husband."


They might be envious. Or they might not be--they might not care about that aspect of McArdle's life because it's not a concern for them, so they can't relate to the types of things she finds most important. Do married people spend a lot of time being envious of their coworkers' dating lives?

"I went to the movies with a guy I'm dating."
"Oh, I've been married for years and don't even think about that kind of thing; since I'm happily married in a stable, fulfilling relationship I was mostly asking about what kind of hobby-related things you did. I built a network in my basement."

Laslo Spatula said...

The Tech Guy Talks Sex and Sensibilty…

I like computers. I like everything about computers. I like what they can do. I like what I can make them do. They make sense. I can make them do sensible things. Do you see where I am going with this? I like computers better than most people. Most people don't make sense. Most women REALLY don't make sense…

A woman was hired into my department. She can do some of the things we do okay, but I don't think she is going to make it: she talks about men, romance, vacations -- she never talks about computers unless it is specific to the job. If you're not working on computers you best be thinking about computers, or you will fall behind. I think she is going to fall behind…

I thought about discussing this with her, but I know THAT would blow up in my face: HR gets nervous when you talk about sensible things. She would probably think I was making a sexual advance or something. I don't make sexual advances: it doesn't make sense to waste time on a dubious outcome with a buggy system…

And if we DID have sex I'd want to go work on my computers afterward, and I know the woman wouldn't like that, they would expect to cuddle or talk and would then get moody. Thinking sensibly, talking after sex makes no sense: what are you trying to achieve? You just had sex, the task has been completed -- time to move on to the next…

I'm not even sure she is attractive. I find her attractive, but I understand that might just be proximity. Nice hardware maybe, but I don't think her software is compatible: we are using different Operating Systems. Maybe if she would let me customize and optimize her we could have something together, but women don't seem to be open to improvements, and I am not going to rewrite my coding just to be with her…

Control-Alt-Masturbate: that does it for me…

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

My main point -- perhaps it's too implied -- is that if you take what she's saying too seriously, you could run away from one job after another and never have a decent career. This idea that there's a true place for you, a job that will match your individual essence, is probably wrong.

For example, when I think about whether law professors are "my people," I have to say no. There were many times when I looked around and thought, basically, "These are not my people." When I was 20 years into it, I started blogging and had much more of a feeling of being fundamentally in sync with what I was doing, and 13 years after that, with financial security, I bailed out of law professing.

But I had a great job that was very satisfying in many ways, and I did some good things with the dissonance and distance I felt, and I assume that if I'd made different choices, I'd have run into other problems. Life isn't the "No Rain" video. You don't suddenly, if you keep moving, arrive in a wonderful place where you're with your people.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

"Personal experience is a poor substitute for data, but as Scott Alexander writes, the data in this case bolster the personal experience. Women seem to have less affinity for mechanical things than men, a preference that shows up even in extremely young children. These preferences show up across cultures, and indeed, the less sexist a society is overall, the more you seem to see women splitting off into fields that emphasize people, and words, and caring. These are averages, not prophecies about individuals. But the average is what you have to look at when you’re asking a question like “Why doesn’t Google have more female engineers?”

James Damore should probably have used fewer words with high negative emotional indices, when more neutral ones were available. But he was basically making the same point that I am: that women seem to have less interest in working with inanimate objects, and that ignoring this is going to lead to a lot of useless or even counterproductive diversity initiatives.

So why did the internet react as if he’d imperiously told women to get back in the kitchen where they belong? Why did his company fire him?

Well, for one thing, the next time the company gets sued for sexism, that memo is going to be Exhibit A. Firing him makes that less of a problem for the company's lawyers. You can also argue that it will be impossible for him to work with the female colleagues whom he has richly angered. But of course, these are problems mostly because people decided that these sorts of arguments are beyond the pale. And given that his empirical claims seem to be the consensus of most of the scientists who study the matter, you have to ask why people decided that.



Megan - nails it here. Excellent.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Megan, we're not happy! Help us, Megan! Tell us about the throes and the doom and the romance!

...

Ann, are women as fake as you make men out to be? Not for $1000, but pray write us out some kind of comparable inner monologue that a woman has.

DKWalser said...

I agree that the harsh comments directed at McArdle -- particularly those focused on her appearance -- are weird. I'll add that they are inappropriate. Megan is a superb writer and I'm a fan. I've followed her since the early days of her 1st blog, which she wrote while working for a firm that was involved with the WTC clean up after 9/11. I seldom agree with everything she writes. When I disagree, I respect her opinion enough that I re-examine my own.

I have the same relationship with the divine Ms. Althouse. She writes well and I always learn something even when I end up disagreeing with her. Along those lines: Sure, Megan's co-workers could have remained silent because they were longing for their own romantic throes -- failing or not. I doubt it. Having been involved in many such conversations myself, I expect they were silent simply because they didn't know what to say to help and didn't want to say something that would make it worse.

This is an example of another typical gender difference: Men tell each other problems in search for a solution. Women tell each other problems looking for empathy. When the typical man hears a problem, he thinks he's being asked to fix it. When the typical women hears a problem, she thinks she's being asked to commiserate. While there are lots of men and women who do not share these tendencies, these tendencies are the source of a common plaint from married women: When I tell my husband I've had a hard day, I can see him mentally preparing to strap on his boots to fix my problems when all I want him to do is listen to me.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Speaking of diversity: why is it impossible to imagine that different people have different drives and desires?
McArdle had one idea about a work-life balance. She likes tech stuff but had a "normal" interest in non-tech/personal stuff, like relationships and dating.
If you ASSUME everyone is like McArdle then it makes sense to ASSUME that the guys who gave her blank stares in response to her story about her weekend must be envious, etc. But why ASSUME that to begin with??

For a discussion that's ultimately about diversity and the difference in underlying individual traits (the distribution thereof) it's just bizarre to START with the assumption that all people have the same motivations, desires, etc.

R.J. Chatt said...

I got a surprising LOL. Who knew?

In seriousness, Megan blamed the guys for some lack on their part but that wouldn't have mattered if she were serious about her own work. Would a bunch of guys in any other field have cared, except maybe for hair stylists, etc.? No. She was capable of understanding the subject intellectually, but she didn't really have the passion. Leaving was a good decision and took guts, but it's kind of creepy that she has to adopt the "victimhood stance" instead of self acceptance and honesty. It always comes down to ego and self defense.

Side note: while this was never reported in the media, Trump made a big point of telling the Boy Scouts at their recent Jamboree that they needed to find some line of work where they felt real passion. He said they never would be really successful unless they actually love what they are doing.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

IF we assume this one thing that doesn't have any real support then we can assume these other things based on that initial assumption and our own beliefs and prejudices...therefore we conclude this is what these unnamed/voiceless people must really have been thinking or feeling.

That's nuts!

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry for leaving out the word "not" in this sentence: "you can't assume they are deeply interested in having sexual experiences like the one they don't want to hear about."

Should be: "you can't assume they are not deeply interested in having sexual experiences like the one they don't want to hear about. "

Hope the context made the error clear. I apologize for the confusion.

Freeman Hunt said...

Any woman who is an outlier in the direction of tech (or similar) interests knows that there are hardly any women who share those interests and no end of men who do. I can see how a woman who does not share these interests might imagine things to be different, but I find it guffaw worthy that any woman into this stuff would claim that there is interest parity betwen the sexes.

etbass said...

I suspect that some of the guys listening to her weekend experience, were sympathetic but felt uncomfortable, not knowing how to react in a friendly way. Changing the subject is a natural way to overcome the discomfort. And to a technical subject is natural; hey, these are guys, right?

Probably most could identify more or less with her angst. But how to react in a kind way to a woman's feelings is not so natural with guys. Hey, these are guys, right?

Guys don't sit around talking about feelings; they are guys, right?

Ann Althouse said...

"I think when most single guys hear a cute girl talking about her doomed romance, what's going on inside their head is more along the lines of, "maybe now I have chance!""

That's in the interior monologue I imagined. It's just buffeted by their also knowing that they do not have a chance.

stlcdr said...

"Of course, if the male coworkers had engaged Megan in conversation about her love life, their risk of harassment charges would have been very high."

Because they would blurtout exactly what is on their mind: "so you didn't want to do anal?"

Bad Lieutenant said...

I assume the men want sex


Yes, and let's discuss that with a female co-worker at work! That will work out so well for us!

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bad Lieutenant said...

stlcdr said...


Sir, I bow to you.

CStanley said...

My main point -- perhaps it's too implied -- is that if you take what she's saying too seriously, you could run away from one job after another and never have a decent career. This idea that there's a true place for you, a job that will match your individual essence, is probably wrong.

I sort of got that point but it got diluted because you then engaged in some stereotyping about the guys she referred to.

As to the point itself, I agree but it can be hard working in environment where you don't fit socially, especially if you don't have outside sources of social contacts, as a young single woman, I moved to a new city and my work experience didn't allow for social contacts so I had to find other ways to meet people- very tough especially for an introvert. I didn't see other career options that would be better in that regard so I worked on the outside of work part of my life. But if remember thinking I'd have preferred a career working alongside other young single professionals.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why the negativity in these comments toward McArdle?"

They know they don't have a chance with her.

They're so desperate, they're trying negging.

DavidD said...

The ending was just perfect, Ann; thank you.

Bad Lieutenant said...

"I think when most single guys hear a cute girl talking about her doomed romance, what's going on inside their head is more along the lines of, "maybe now I have chance!""

That's in the interior monologue I imagined. It's just buffeted by their also knowing that they do not have a chance.



Since that is not their fault, it also must be avoided because you can never, never blame or criticize the woman.

Don't you fucking get it, emerita? Any honest conversation on the part of the male --> FIRED at the whim of the female. PS What makes you think you're worth it?

Bad Lieutenant said...

They're so desperate, they're trying negging.



Besides, negging works. The Crack Emcee negged you to death and he probably could have had you if he wanted.

Freeman Hunt said...

I like the imagined interior thoughts of the men. However, I think their actual interior thoughts were probably more like, "Okay." Not "okay" like "weird" or "stupid" but "okay" like "I have now received the information you wanted to give me."

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...My main point -- perhaps it's too implied -- is that if you take what she's saying too seriously, you could run away from one job after another and never have a decent career. This idea that there's a true place for you, a job that will match your individual essence, is probably wrong.

That's undoubtedly true and the advice that people "follow their passion" can likewise get people into trouble--even in jobs and fields individuals are passionate about there is often a lot of unfun drudgery so if you decided you must be ecstatic in your work 100% of the time you'd never stay anywhere.
People are different, though: there's a range, a distribution. An employer like Google gets the pick of the litter in terms of employees and it makes sense to assume that due to their selectivity they are able to get the very best of the best. Within that group it would be surprising to find many people who were not passionate techies (or programmers, whatever)--they're presumably selecting from a group at the far right tail of the distribution of competence & achievement in that field.

McArdle's point is more applicable to that sub-population: the people likely to rise and thrive within that already-narrow group are probably the ones most passionate about what they're involved with, work-wise.

Now, to your point, that may mean they're less well-rounded as people, or have less-fulfilling personal lives/relationships, etc. If women as a group care more about those things or are less likely to be found at the right tail of the distribution for "passionate about tech" then it would make sense for women to be "underrepresented" in jobs/positions where that passion is more important. Which, you know, is a big part of the Google memo guy's point, right??

Howard said...

Same experience as MM here. Started in electrical engineering and couldn't stand being around weak awkward girly-men nerds always geeking out on dungeons and dragons looking at dominatrix porn, breathing soldiering fumes and doing long division for fun.

Feste said...

~
“The mob reaction [to Damore] did prove that women indeed have some power in tech.”

I too like some of Megan’s stuff (nod to Bob Ellison), but I’m not a follower. She understands - “some power” - in a mob reaction means a scalability problem from the experimental results of a single firing, but she does not seem to understand scalability to "mobs" necessarily diminishes at her larger scales, with everyone running away from all jobs with those who are not “my people,” unless she has invented fictive mobs of adoring readers to hide her imposter fatigue.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Also, just in a fact basis, MM isn't hot at all, at least per Google image search.

Ann Althouse said...

"I assume the men want sex. Yes, and let's discuss that with a female co-worker at work! That will work out so well for us!"

Which is my point: It explains the blank faces just as well as the assumption that they were not interested.

Freeman Hunt said...

They know they don't have a chance with her.

They're so desperate, they're trying negging.


LOL I'd forgotten about the concept of negging.

rehajm said...

Last year at this time the office's usual fantasy football (male) competitors were encouraging the new women hires to participate. The women agreed to do so ONLY if the guys would later participate in a The Bachelor fantasy league.

They guys did agree and mentored the new players through the football season. The women then educated the guys on Bachelor fantasy strategy. It was glorious!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Why the negativity in these comments toward McArdle?"

They know they don't have a chance with her.


No negativity from me--I followed McMegan back in the Jane Galt days and watched her on Bloggingheads before I found Althouse! One of my favorite Bloggingheads forum memories is laughing at the butthurt when the people who kept agitating for more female vloggers were unhappy that McArdle kept getting episodes. I pointed out that they called for "more women" and since McArdle was certainly a woman they were getting exactly what they wanted--they called me a sexist! Those were fun days.

Anyway Megan's married so of course no one has a chance w/her now. Her husband is Peter Suderman, a libertarian...Megan seems to be moving more to the economic left these days, though.

Here's an article from her Atlantic days: Why Marriage? discussing why she decided getting married to her guy was important.

Ann Althouse said...

BTW, I can't understand the anecdote out of context. Another thing I'd want to know is how much and how boringly McArdle made references to her dates.

Years ago, I worked in an office with 3 other women and with 2 of them I had many interesting discussions about all sorts of thing, including relationships. But this other woman... whenever she talked about her dates, we'd just wait for her to leave the room so we could roll our eyes at her stories. I don't think she could have explained our unreceptiveness to her stories, but she was just very uncool compared to how we thought of ourselves.

She got dressed up and went on dates that are probably what a lot of people these days do but were hopelessly square in the 1970s. I remember her talking about always ordering a split of champagne as her drink an how that was a way to test the man's worth. I am still laughing at her. Isn't that mean?

Ann Althouse said...

The main other thing I remember about that woman is that she called in sick every month when she got her period.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Bad Lieutenant said...Ann, are women as fake as you make men out to be? Not for $1000, but pray write us out some kind of comparable inner monologue that a woman has.

Shoes!

chuck said...

> Megan seems to be moving more to the economic left these days, though.

I had the impression she started on the left -- it was her childhood environment -- and that she has slowly, very slowly, been moving to the right. But more important than that, she, like Althouse, is a free thinker. I think she is willing to consider other points of view, even if she doesn't agree with them.

bagoh20 said...

"Megan, we're not happy!" Oh yes they are. When men are into that type of concentration and tinkering, they are truely in their bliss. They also love romance and sex and approach it similarly, but since it involves women (usually) we understand that the thing may not be fixable, and we love to fix stuff.

I'm sure any woman who has been around for a while has had the experience of being with a man she is sexually involved with when he is deeply involved in something like a project or sports, etc. If she is horny, lonely, bored or all three she may try to entice him into romance and intimacy and offer sex to get there only to have him be completely disinterested in what under other circumstances he would have a one track mind toward.

My girlfriend's ex was a friend of mine and from talking to him when they were together years back, I know he was very attracted to her, and even asked her to marry him. She told me that one day he was watching baseball and she got naked in front of him and tried to get him to go skinny dipping in the pool with her. He wasn't leaving that TV for anything as long as the game was on. This woman is very attractive and sexy. Personally, I would have jumped at the chance, but I don't watch much sports. I'm probably even a more perfect man than Bill Nye. I might have reacted the same if I was busy tinkering in my garage. Sometimes we just are dumb as bag of hammers.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althuse said...I don't think she could have explained our unreceptiveness to her stories, but she was just very uncool compared to how we thought of ourselves.

That's bullying. You should retroactively report to HR for sensitivity training and reeducation.

The main other thing I remember about that woman is that she called in sick every month when she got her period.

No she didn't. That didn't happen and doesn't happen. That's an MRA talking about and I'm saddened that you chose to perpetuate that myth.
Anyway even if something like that did happen it just shows that workplaces need to change to accommodate all workers.

DKWalser said...

Althouse -- I agree with your larger point. A job shouldn't be a substitute for a family. It shouldn't be where you go for emotional fulfillment. So, you shouldn't walk away from a job merely because you don't feel a lot in common with your co-workers.

But that wasn't what Megan meant when she said these weren't her people. She realized that they were interested in tech a lot more than she was and that, to be successful, she would need to dedicate a lot of her spare time reading about tech and working on tech projects. Her co-workers were doing that for fun. She would be doing it just to keep up with them. They were passionate about tech in a way she simply wasn't. Rather than force herself to do all that extra work (knowing she would soon grow to resent it), she found a different career that allows her to work on things she's passionate about. She probably spends a lot of her spare time reading about economics, finance, public policy, and the other areas she's interested in. She doesn't do that extra reading just to keep up with other columnists. She does it because she's passionate about the area and she enjoys the reading.

LilyBart said...

It makes me feel angry that Ann reads McArdle's experience as "Impostor's Syndrome".

A lot of people try one career early in their life, only to find its not a good fit. That doesn't make it "impostor's syndrome". Its kind of dismissive. Also, it assumes McArdle is weak, rather than wise to realize something isn't really working and to make a change for the better.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

chuck said... But more important than that, she, like Althouse, is a free thinker. I think she is willing to consider other points of view, even if she doesn't agree with them.

No question there. She has a distinctive writing style, too--Instapundit excerpts her less now but I could always tell before getting to a block quote that it was by her.

Does she still do BloggingHeads? I always watched eps with her and with Kaus. When she argues and writes she references/goes back to her own experience a lot--more frequently than is optimal from a persuasion-standpoint I think--but given her pretty unique background I guess that's understandable.

Bob Ellison said...

Big Mike said, "I read McArdle's article when she first published it, and I get the point. richlib is right -- the men she was working with live, breathe, eat, and drink fiddling around with technology. Long term she can compete by understanding them, being able to organizing them, and becoming their manager."

That's correct and worth repeating. Both men and women should learn that lesson. You need not be part of that nerd army to help them or even command them.

I have the problem of maniacal focus on single tasks, like fixing an imperfect door latch. A good manager or co-worker, watching me obsess over such an unimportant thing, would try to re-direct my energy.

Rick said...

but it's kind of creepy that she has to adopt the "victimhood stance" instead of self acceptance and honesty. It always comes down to ego and self defense.

She wasn't adopting a victim stance, you guys are reading in elements that don't exist.

Hagar said...

Well, Althouse definitely is a female.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I no longer build PCs or firewalls/NATs using spare parts/open source software. But I am playing with VMs and taking online courses on various computer related subjects that aren't currently relevant to my job, but seem interesting.

Someone once told me that I was the only person they ever met who laughed while reading a UNIX manual.

I am definitely someone who would be interested in talking about creating a fiber-optic LAN.

mockturtle said...

The apparent aim of some women to, essentially, make men more like women has always puzzled me. A woman going to work in a largely male environment may have to accept that her co-workers are more interested in sports than in the latest diet.

The analogy isn't perfect but it's a little like Californians moving to Washington State. They move here because it's not California but they immediately think: "Gee, I wish Washington was more like California. Let's do what we can to change it!"

HoodlumDoodlum said...

DKWalser said...But that wasn't what Megan meant when she said these weren't her people. She realized that they were interested in tech a lot more than she was and that, to be successful, she would need to dedicate a lot of her spare time reading about tech and working on tech projects. Her co-workers were doing that for fun. She would be doing it just to keep up with them. They were passionate about tech in a way she simply wasn't.

Ok now take that observation and generalize it--assume that (for whatever reason) men are more likely to be "passionate" in that way about tech than women are...and you've just created at least a partial explanation for why women might be "underrepresented" (vs. their % of the total population) in a high-end employer in that field.
If you say that in a memo, though, your ass will get fired. Quickly!

Anyway the handwaving Leftist answer to that (assuming the allow it to be possibly true even arguendo) is to say that THAT is itself evidence that the workplace or the economy generally is bad for women--that we need to change "the system" so that it's just as economically (which is to say, financially) rewarding to lack passion as it is to have passion.

Think that's an unfair accusation? Witness the many articles talking about the unfairness of fields where working long hours helps you get ahead, etc.

JAORE said...

I had a parallel "not my people" moment in college. At the time (2nd semester sophomore, IIRC) I approached 3 or 4 of my fellow physics majors.

What did you do this weekend? I had a few beers with buddies Friday and went to the football game Saturday......

Blank stares all around. And I guarantee they were not uncomfortable about sexual issues.

They had spent the weekend writing a computer program to simulate a chemical reaction covered in that class on Friday.

The reason, in my opinion, was they were EXCITED over their weekend activities and were making social noises that would (quickly) lead to them being able to enthrall me about the program. My diversion into the real world was a nuisance.

There is a reason it's called being Geeked up.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

FWIW McArdle is my go-to source on Obama/Trump Care.

JAORE said...

Oh yeah, by the next semester I changed to an engineering major.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Winkleheimer said...

I think the telling sentence in the article is where she says she would "never waste a weekend" doing tech stuff.

Technology is a constantly changing field. You, literally, have to be constantly learning new stuff to stay competitive. If you consider doing tech stuff outside of work a waste of time you will not be happy in the field.

I assume the men want sex and that they want a real companion in life and suffer when they don't have it, even if they blunt their suffering by masturbating, playing video games, and talking about wiring the basement.

Now the Professor is just trolling us.

mockturtle said...

Once I accidentally saw part of a soap opera [in the hospital because of my roommate]. A group of men was sitting around a table talking about...relationships!. I laughed out loud.

walter said...

For the most part, you see the same thing in technical areas of media production. Online forums with pretty much zero female presence as tech details and strategies are explored, experimented with, debated etc.
But the few in the field are right there complaining when supposed discrepancies in % representation comes up..along with a bunch of white knights to insult dissenters just to get their bonafides out. I remember one instance where a job offering was looking specifically for women applicants with no stated reason. One guy vigorously questioned that approach and the female job poster promised to circulate the guy's name into a blacklist of sorts.

Todd said...

Ann said:

Throes! Romance! Where are my throes? Where's my romance? A single smile of romance would mean so much to me and she's shrugging off whole throes of romance as if it's nothing! Doomed! Doomed! She says. But I'm the one who's doomed! I don't even have a doomed romance! What I would give for one weekend — one Sunday morning — of even doomed romance! Throes?! What are throes? Orgasms? Or is it something more, with a woman? What could it be? How could I ever know? Throes? Even one throe! Could I ever offer myself to the sublime Megan McArdle? No, I am doomed. Don't let her see that I want even the doomed romance, even for one quarter of a weekend. Don't let her know. Maintain a blank stare, like the other men — all of us, bereft of romance, bereft of throes. Oh, that poor geek saying he built a fiber-channel network in his basement over the weekend, as if his abject loserhood could make Megan smile. Megan, smile at me. I want weekend throes! But what a loser I am! At least, let's prop up our ridiculous brother who resorted to self-deprecation. So desperate. But I'm desperate too. Let me help cover up the desperation that guy let slip. That could have been me. I'm embarrassed for him. You'll never impress Megan like that. I wouldn't be surprised if she left this job thinking that she just doesn't belong here, that nobody wants to talk about relationships, that we're happy blowing the weekend wiring a basement. Megan, we're not happy! Help us, Megan! Tell us about the throes and the doom and the romance!

That was actually quite good but it strikes me as more of what a woman thinks a man in that situation would think than actually what a man in that situation would think. Realistically, how could it be otherwise as that is what it actually was (you in their minds). It also reads like what a chick-flick ('what a girl wants' for example) would have guys say in such a situation. Very much likely, their words were their thoughts, if you would indulge me in a bit of mansplaining...

Ron Winkleheimer said...

When I got into the field I learned Hollerith code and the screen section had only recently been added to Cobol. Today I, among other duties, automate the installation of open source BRM and BPM software packages into Wildfly and Jboss containers.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/computing/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hollerith-code

mockturtle said...

"It’s just that I would never in a million years have chosen to waste a weekend that way."

This shows that she not only doesn't 'get it' but that she is never likely to.

Todd said...

No one told that guy to go home and build a fiber-channel network in his basement; no one told me I couldn’t. It’s just that I would never in a million years have chosen to waste a weekend that way.

Exhibit A as to why she self selected to no longer be there. No one else in that room saw that as a wasted weekend.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Using a combination of UNIX shell scripting, jboss-cli commands, and a propriety software developed in-house.

Jives said...

Unknown made me laugh

"I'm not sure it was ethical for Maureen Dowd to hijack Althouse's blog."

ba dum kssshhhh

Quayle said...

What the hell is (are?) "my people?"

It is a natural human phenomenon to want to group for security and sociality. And grouping along common interests is easiest. Where the tendency gets screwy is when people start to construct or destruct characteristics and commonalities to create artificial, high compatibilities. The gen you end up with phony 'plastic people.' (And my brain unavoidably follows that phrase with 'Oh baby now you're such a drag.' The fruit of listening too much to a certain record when I was young.)

The point is that as humans, what unites us is far more prevalent than what is different. We just overlook it, take it for granted, and focus on the smaller differences.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hagar said...

To the contrary, McArdle "got it" and decided to get out while the getting was good.

McArdle is a pretty straight person.

(That does not mean I agree with her about "health care," etc., where she takes a more "womanly" position.)

Todd said...

Ann Althouse said...
"First, lots of people don't want to hear about their co-workers love life or their religion. TMI."

I agree that many people don't want to hear about it. But when they indicate they don't want to hear about it by giving you a blank stare, you can't assume they are deeply interested in having sexual experiences like the one they don't want to hear about. They might care very much and feel very envious. I assume the men want sex and that they want a real companion in life and suffer when they don't have it, even if they blunt their suffering by masturbating, playing video games, and talking about wiring the basement.

8/11/17, 11:34 AM


Don't you cry for them Ann, soon (very soon now) they will have their robot sex dolls and all will be right with the world!

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Now, my wife would shake her head when I was building our home network, and was happy when the tower I used for the firewall/NAT was replaced by a small router purchased from an actual store. And she was even happier when I finally bit the bullet and cleaned out the closet that was stuffed full of old gear (including the chassis of the first PC I built.) But, she knew two things. That my work was also my hobby. And that the work kept us well provided for.

Hagar said...

Of course, McArdle is a woman.

Fernandinande said...

A guy brought his baby into work and all the girls crowded around cooing and smiling, and all the guys tried to get away as quickly as possible without being rude.

I wonder why most pediatricians are women.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I'm going to let you guys into a secret. I'm considering getting back into building PCs again.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I assume the men want sex and that they want a real companion in life and suffer when they don't have it, even if they blunt their suffering by masturbating, playing video games, and talking about wiring the basement.

Not always all at the same time. I've learned there are circumstances where is it socially unacceptable to talk about wiring the basement.

gypsy rose said...

The internal nerd-man monologue - yet another reason added to the long list of reasons I regularly visit this blog. Surprises are fun. Thank you, Ann.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

As Good As It Gets: How do you write women so well?"

Nonapod said...

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer said...
I'm going to let you guys into a secret. I'm considering getting back into building PCs again.


If you're looking to build a gaming box you may have to wait a bit. Graphics card prices are currently through the roof due to the latest crytocurrency mining craze. Nvidia GTX 1070s have jumped from around $300 to $500 in 4 months.

rehajm said...

"Gee, I wish Washington was more like California. Let's do what we can to change it!"

"Gee, I wish (INSERT NAME OF CURRENT LOCATION OF CALIFORNIAN OUTSIDE OF CALIFORNIA) was more like California. Let's do what we can to change it!"

Ralph L said...

Ron, back to work.

Todd said...

Nonapod said...

Graphics card prices are currently through the roof due to the latest crytocurrency mining craze. Nvidia GTX 1070s have jumped from around $300 to $500 in 4 months.

8/11/17, 1:09 PM


Oh Lord, is that still a thing? I thought anyone still mining moved over to ASICs due to the difficulty levels versus energy RIOs? I have three remaining Gridseed Blacks for sale, interested? Just kidding, shipping is a bitch...

exiledonmainstreet said...

Todd wrote "That was actually quite good but it strikes me as more of what a woman thinks a man in that situation would think than actually what a man in that situation would think."

Yes. I am reminded of a joke email that made the rounds a few years back. The first part was the lengthy diary entry of a young woman who was miserable because her man was cold and distant that evening and she took it as a sign their relationship was falling apart. Although he had made love to her, he turned away afterward and she was sure that it was because he was thinking of another woman. She went on for some time rehashing his silences and perfunctory responses during dinner and by the end of the entry she convinced herself that he was about leave her.

Then came the man's diary entry for the day. "It was not a good day. Bob beat me at golf. My putting really sucks. But at least I got laid."

I have attempted many times to imagine what men were thinking and feeling in certain situations, only to find out later that I was way off the mark.

MayBee said...

But that wasn't what Megan meant when she said these weren't her people. She realized that they were interested in tech a lot more than she was and that, to be successful, she would need to dedicate a lot of her spare time reading about tech and working on tech projects. Her co-workers were doing that for fun. She would be doing it just to keep up with them. They were passionate about tech in a way she simply wasn't. Rather than force herself to do all that extra work (knowing she would soon grow to resent it), she found a different career that allows her to work on things she's passionate about. She probably spends a lot of her spare time reading about economics, finance, public policy, and the other areas she's interested in. She doesn't do that extra reading just to keep up with other columnists. She does it because she's passionate about the area and she enjoys the reading.

Completely right.
And I can relate.

I started college as an engineering major. My father had encouraged me to go into engineering because I was a female who was good at math and science. In my second year, I had a moment much like MM. The people (mostly guys) studying along with me were smarter and more curious than me in ways that were much better suited for engineering. So I switched to business and ended up with a job in IT. And I could do the job, but I never loved it in the way some of the people (mostly guys) I worked with loved it.
I remember my boss telling me to ask my team to come in on a weekend. I said I didn't think it was necessary. He said, "Well why wouldn't they come in? What else are they going to do, anyway?"

As much as Althouse advises not to throw away a career you might enjoy because you can't relate to the people, I advise not to throw away your years doing a job you can't stand simply because you can do it, especially when you realize the other people in your field LOVE the work they are doing.

Nonapod said...

I thought anyone still mining moved over to ASICs due to the difficulty levels versus energy RIOs?

It's mostly due to Ethereum, which still does well on GPUs. There's all sorts of talk of them switching from PoW to PoS next year (or at least a fork to it).

MayBee said...

Freeman Hunt said...
Any woman who is an outlier in the direction of tech (or similar) interests knows that there are hardly any women who share those interests and no end of men who do. I can see how a woman who does not share these interests might imagine things to be different, but I find it guffaw worthy that any woman into this stuff would claim that there is interest parity betwen the sexes.


Yes!

And this wouldn't even be a question if we were talking about, say, day care providers. We wouldn't even question whether there is an interest parity.

The real reason anyone cares about this is because there is good money to be made in Silicon Valley. I Construction is also a heavily-male job, but I guess that's ok. We aren't going to talk about why there aren't more women on a construction site or why girls aren't being raised to be carpenters.

DKWalser said...

Think that's an unfair accusation? Witness the many articles talking about the unfairness of fields where working long hours helps you get ahead, etc

It's not an unfair accusation. It's what's happening. Feminists are attempting to reshape human nature. They don't like the way men think and act and they don't really care why they think and act that way. They must stop thinking and acting that way so as to accommodate. Explaining that sitting with knees together is uncomfortable for men because men's hips direct their thighs apart at an angle of about 15 degrees will not result in feminists retracting their demand that men quit manspreading. It will get you accused of mansplaining.

Genetic and biologic explanations for the way men think and act is of no avail. Men must change. However, don't dare suggest that women, gays, or trans should change their way of thinking and behaving because that's different!

tcrosse said...

I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.

Todd said...

Nonapod said...

It's mostly due to Ethereum, which still does well on GPUs. There's all sorts of talk of them switching from PoW to PoS next year (or at least a fork to it).

8/11/17, 1:28 PM


The recent forking in the coins was indeed "big news" for a bit though most of those that ran under pools were shielded. Shame they (the Feds) shut down BTC, am aware of a few folks that are out Bucks [with a capitol B]...

exiledonmainstreet said...

tcrosse said...
I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess."

But if you guys did, who would be coming up with cool stuff like a kiddie ride made from a bar stool attached to the agitator of a washing machine? I could look at two propane tanks all day and it would never occur to me to make a jetpack out of them!

ALP said...

I am a female that took programming way back in the early 90's - I. FUCKING. HATED. IT.

Except the manual, concrete, analytic paper + template task of developing flow charts. THAT I liked. Pencil in hand, drawing on paper.

I read Megan's article, and was saying "Yes..yes...YES MEGAN!" She nailed it when she notes the fact the guys spent their weekends on tech, while she did not. That passion for the computer/software environment is absolutely crucial. I didn't have it. I don't waste one second wondering why there are few women in tech because I know why.

Last time I had to attend diversity/sexual harassment training, the woman teaching it made the following statements: "You can ask a woman out once, but if she says 'no' it ends there. And...if she says something like 'I am washing my hair that night and am busy' that is still 'no' because, as we all know Ladies...'washing my hair' is code for 'no'."

I await the fine minds of the Althouse blog to dissect all the female stereotypes in THAT statement and how DA FUCK it is any different than what happened at Google.

Birches said...

@ JAORE

An business academic I follow tells the story about how when he was a physics major in college his Physics professor father was helping him with a problem on the blackboard in their basement. He said to him, "Son didn't I help you with a problem like this last week?" and the kid said "yes." The dad said, "if you're not thinking about this problem when you have nothing else to do then you shouldn't major in physics." Good dad. Right advice.

mockturtle said...

I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.

I LOVED Red Green! :-)

mockturtle said...

exiled remarks: But if you guys did, who would be coming up with cool stuff like a kiddie ride made from a bar stool attached to the agitator of a washing machine? I could look at two propane tanks all day and it would never occur to me to make a jetpack out of them!

Me, either! I really admire all that men build, invent and create.

Todd said...

exiledonmainstreet said...

I could look at two propane tanks all day and it would never occur to me to make a jetpack out of them!

8/11/17, 1:49 PM


I SO want a jet-pack and not the old-school peroxide powered kind either. One using a pair of these, a real jet pack! Maybe when I retire...

Nyamujal said...

Judging from a lot of the comments here, I reckon a lot of you haven't really worked for a big corporation and are taking the side of someone who, despite all his intelligence, was stupid enough to put his thoughts on an internal memo. I joke around with my co-workers and occasionally, in my largely male dominated engineering field, the conversation veers towards topics similar to the ones being discussed in the memo. No one in my group has been stupid enough to pen their thoughts on this issue on a document that leaves a trail or voice their opinions loudly while on company property. His employment was at-will and at the first sign of trouble, Google decided to let him go because they didn't feel like dealing with the resulting shitshow. They did what any large corporation in this age would've done.
If that pisses you off, maybe you should support employee unions where workers have more protections, or seek stronger regulations on corporations. Maybe some anti-trust regulations will help break up behemoths like Google (the EU has been pushing some of them).
Back to Megan's point, Why do you have to love your job? It's a job and it puts food on the table, puts the kids through college, and helps you buy the things you like. People who invest everything they have in their careers tend to be incredibly boring. Have a life outside work. You are not your job.

Nonapod said...

If that pisses you off, maybe you should support employee unions where workers have more protections, or seek stronger regulations on corporations. Maybe some anti-trust regulations will help break up behemoths like Google (the EU has been pushing some of them).

Those sorts of solutions are simply replacing one sort of thought policing with another, reducing individual agency and freedom, replacing one code of conduct with another. Empowering labor unions and/or government to regulate and punish one type of wrongthink over another solves nothing and in fact only creates new problems.

Rather, these things have to be discussed and debated openly and honestly as much as possible. When it comes to ideas, you can't force people down a path, they have to be willing to walk it.

mockturtle said...

People who invest everything they have in their careers tend to be incredibly boring. Have a life outside work. You are not your job.

I think you miss the point. Those who spend their weekends thinking about/working on job related issues are not doing it under duress but because it interests them more than other activities. The point of the article [IMHO] is not that some people prefer to spend weekends designing systems but that the author doesn't understand why they would want to. It's the old 'everyone should think as I do' syndrome.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Nyamujal said...

Back to Megan's point, Why do you have to love your job? It's a job and it puts food on the table, puts the kids through college, and helps you buy the things you like. People who invest everything they have in their careers tend to be incredibly boring. Have a life outside work. You are not your job.

You don't have to love your job. But if you want to keep your job, and keep putting food on the table, then you have to be competent at your job. Unless you are a much faster learner than the vast majority of people in tech, that means many hours above and beyond your work hours to keep up with the latest in the field.

The people Megan was working with had a life outside of work. It involved tech. Not because they had to for work, but because they enjoyed it, the way someone else might enjoy gardening, or stamp collecting, or playing on a softball team.

Todd said...

mockturtle said...

The point of the article [IMHO] is not that some people prefer to spend weekends designing systems but that the author doesn't understand why they would want to. It's the old 'everyone should think as I do' syndrome.

8/11/17, 2:30 PM


This.

When I was a good bit younger everything was coding. Didn't matter if it was in Cobol, C, ASM, sh, AWK, Basic, whatever. It was the coding. Lived it, breathed it, dreamed it in my sleep. Would go to work early and come home late as well as do my own projects nights and weekends. Design and build my own libraries of function, reports, web sites, ANYTHING. The joy of being able to sit down at a computer (any computer) and code was as close to heaven on earth that I could (at the time) think of. I was and am exceedingly lucky as once I "discovered" that computers were my thing, I have been able to be involved with them ever since, going on to almost 40 years now (started programming Vic 20s, Commodore PETs, Apple I/IIs in the late 70s). Do much less programming now-a-days (nearly none professionally) but just can't stay away. Now it is mostly web stuff, SQL, PowerShell, etc.

I KNOW that I am one of the rare lucky ones that got to do "my thing" and get paid (rather well) for doing it. Most are no way close to that fortunate and part of me is sad for them. My father was one of those. Had to walk away from his calling to put food on the table for his family. He sucked it up cause that is what adults do but he was different (as one would expect) being reduced to just a job after having done his passion. I get it (and hope I appreciate it enough to have deserved it). So yes some get to get paid for their hobbies but most get paid to be able to afford their hobbies.

TerriW said...

"Someone once told me that I was the only person they ever met who laughed while reading a UNIX manual."

Was it an OReilly book?

FWBuff said...

When my middle daughter started college in 2011, she was an engineering major. Even so recently at a well-known university that was aggressively recruiting women into its engineering school, the ratio of male to female engineering majors was about 4 to 1. But one of her (female) engineering professors told her that there was an upside and a downside for relationships with that ratio:

"The odds are good, but the goods are odd."

mockturtle said...

"The odds are good, but the goods are odd."

The same has been said about women moving to Alaska. ;-)

Unknown said...

You know, when you have no one else in your life, throes of romance or even something less steamy, then outfitting your basement with a fiber-channel network can seem really, really fun. Right?

Jason said...

...In which we learn that Nyamujal is a good, obedient little cog.

And a happy-face fascist who gets a hard on when people with some ideas and the guts to advance them are purged from the system.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Was it an OReilly book?

I've still got it.

UNIX System V release 4: An Introduction: For New and Experienced Users

It "A comprehensive guide to the new operating system that unifies UNIX System V, the BSD System, the SunOS, and the Xenix System."

Published by McGraw-Hill

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I was transitioning from Mainframes to UNIX.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

You know, when you have no one else in your life, throes of romance or even something less steamy, then outfitting your basement with a fiber-channel network can seem really, really fun. Right?

Some people like to work with wood. Some like to cook. Some like to garden. Some people play the guitar or some other musical instrument. Some like chess, others play pinochle or bridge or backgammon. Some people do the Sunday Times Crossword. Some people have multiple hobbies. People who spend all of their time thinking about their significant other without any other interest are usually considered obsessive and controlling.

mockturtle said...

People who invest everything they have in their careers tend to be incredibly boring. Have a life outside work. You are not your job.

To paraphrase Nyamujal, people who invest everything they have in their relationships tend to be incredibly boring [especially to their partners]. Have some interests of your own and some together. Ideal.

BDNYC said...

Those guys could've been the loneliest guys in the world and they still wouldn't have felt envy for her. Your average guy can barely stand listening to a woman whine about her love life, unless he's trying to get in her pants of course.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Great post! Nice interior dialogue.

Rick said...

mockturtle said... It's the old 'everyone should think as I do' syndrome.

You're completely wrong about this. She's saying people think differently but not that it's a problem. Her entire article supports the claim that preferences drive disproportion and that's ok.

mockturtle said...

You're completely wrong about this. She's saying people think differently but not that it's a problem. Her entire article supports the claim that preferences drive disproportion and that's ok.

She is supposing that they are missing out and 'wasting' perfectly good weekends.
I realize that SHE realizes that they are different from her but she still implies that they are unfulfilled drones.

Rick said...

She is supposing that they are missing out and 'wasting' perfectly good weekends.

She used the term in the sense of "wasting away again in Margaritaville": having so much fun the time slips by so fast you wonder where it went.

Why do you work so hard to find something to disagree with?

Unknown said...

I agree with you Ron Winkleheimer. Was making a (poor) joke.

Did you notice this:

"No one told that guy to go home and build a fiber-channel network in his basement; no one told me I couldn’t. It’s just that I would never in a million years have chosen to waste a weekend that way."

"Waste" rather than "Spend". Fair bit of value judging in that.

Freeman Hunt said...

She uses "waste" to show the difference in perspective. That's how she knew they weren't her people. To her it would have been a waste while to them it was great fun.

Mary E. Glynn said...

Freeman Hunt said...

She uses "waste" to show the difference in perspective.
---------------
No, she uses "waste" because she is judgemental, and as a woman in an "under-represented" field, she is being paid for her opinions.

Doesn't make her any more meritorious in a competitive field though. She was smart to get out when she did. Her heart was not in it, and setting up computers is hardly the same as being one of the best and the brightest.

How are the boys, freeman? Are they going to pursue tech careers in school, and how are you coming on that online undergrad yourself? Good luck!

Mary E. Glynn said...

(I suspect the real time wasters are those who spend more than a minute analyzing McArdle's numerous anectdotes/stories. She really is not that interesting. Her passion appears to lie in cooking/baking. I'm surprised ann has stereotyped megan as a "hottie" gal. Funny for ann to show her "thinking like a man" skills. I hope meade sticks close as she ages. Very out of touch.)

Mary E. Glynn said...

BDNYC said...

Those guys could've been the loneliest guys in the world and they still wouldn't have felt envy for her. Your average guy can barely stand listening to a woman whine about her love life
----------
It's hard to be a woman/girl too.
This "boytalk" starts up in jr. high, and they do not seem to outgrow it, even the ones who claim to be satisfied at home.

"I know what boys like...
I know what guys want.
Boys want... boys want... ME!"

I don't think all cultures encourage women like this, but the Boomers post-war, pre-Title IX, what else did they have to "compete" for? It stuck with them. Hence the inability to age gracefully, grow up and mature, or to admit that young people have naturally occuring charms that money cannot buy...

but do hit those amazon accounts, especially you homeschoolers! ;-)

Mary E. Glynn said...

and... It's a weekend!

Shake what yo mama gave ya, gals!
Show 'em what they can only imagine, but can't have
cuz their(sic) not playing in your leagues!

Lol! Shake 'em, mama!

Jonathan Graehl said...

Ann, I read that interaction exactly the way you did.
I've talked to smart+handsome young women who are competent (in grad phd comp sci) and just in agony over how dull and socially un-scintillating their mostly male colleagues are. Severest doubts as to their life choices.
That's the issue. *Most* capable women don't find the work and the kind of people attracted to the work desirable.

MaxedOutMama said...

The problem with your rather funny imagined internal dialogue was that the people who really excel in IT (esp. modern IT) are those for whom that dialogue just doesn't fit.

They make excellent spouses, provided they have enough space to do their projects and the family allows them to do their projects. But they are (from an Althousian POV) obsessed with the hardware, and the field as it now exists forces you to be constantly learning new things.

The number of women working in the field has dropped as the 10 hour a week ongoing commitment to learning new things crept into the job requirements. If your actual work often requires 50/60 hours a week, and then you are going to commit another long day to studying new technology, then it doesn't leave you much time for anything else. When the field is your exciting hobby and not just your career, the time studying is not a burden but a privilege.

It is desiring to have a family, more than anything else, that is keeping women out of that. If you truly love it, then the hours and the need to be constantly studying are not a burden, but a pleasure. It is an intensely satisfying career, intellectually and yes! emotionally, if you love it. But it does not make for a balanced life, and for a woman who wants to have children, it is rarely practical.

That's the truth. The idea that a non-sexist society would result in a uniform society was always idiotic, but now apparently it's idiotic dogma.

There are far fewer women in IT now for the same reason that there are far fewer women in long-haul trucking - the job doesn't allow for social/family life well.

Unknown said...

Men should stop loving what they do so women can feel more successful.

Unknown said...

Cha Cha Muldowney or Big Daddy Garlits?

Achilles said...

I had a "These are not my people moment."

It was during student teaching. They had me working with two teachers, an older gentleman with years of experience and a younger woman with not so many years.

One of them was OCD about paperwork, had all of the trouble makers in class picked out and isolated(all boys and all of the black boys), and didn't appreciate my attempts to teach in a way that included them.

I will let you guess which one was the screeching harridan. oops...

And yes I believe these stories are absolutely related.

Achilles said...

I am having a not my people moment now.

I am watching postal employees try to find a registered piece of mail that was sent to me.

MaxedOutMama said...

Ann, you wrote: My main point -- perhaps it's too implied -- is that if you take what she's saying too seriously, you could run away from one job after another and never have a decent career. This idea that there's a true place for you, a job that will match your individual essence, is probably wrong.

You don't get it. If she had really liked the field, the fact that the other people doing the job were a poor social match wouldn't have made the slightest difference. She liked the work, she was competent at it, but as she looked around that room she realized that to excel in that field, she was going to be doing a lot of extra "work" to keep up with the guys who were doing it for FUN. It's not that Megan is afraid of work, either. She went back to school and followed another path, which was a tremendous commitment. But she didn't love the job enough to do what it demands without it being an unreasonable drag on the life she wanted. For them, the whole thing was a gift from heaven, because if they had not been working in IT, they would still be trying to build the fiber optic network in the basement. If she had felt the same way about it, she would still be in the field.

You aren't making a lot of sense because you don't do IT and you evidently don't know anyone who is seriously into it. Megan was describing not a social filter but an interest filter.

Btw, I am the broad who did stay in, and if you made me pick between the concert/date and the fiber optic network, it would be the fiber optic network EVERY time. I have been to precisely ONE rock concert in my life and several classical concerts. There's a reason I haven't watched television or a movie in decades. One picks and chooses, and there is only so much time in life. It is not that the geeks couldn't have gone to the concert - it's that this other stuff was so much more interesting. Believe me, they did not envy her social life.

mockturtle said...

Well stated, M.O.M!

google is evil said...

This is simple. You need to act the way the girl wants you to act. What she wants will change moment to moment. But it is upon you to know when she changes her mind and to react accordingly. If you don't comply then the the power will crush you for no other reason than to make itself feel better.

Nyamujal said...

@Jason
"...In which we learn that Nyamujal is a good, obedient little cog.

And a happy-face fascist who gets a hard on when people with some ideas and the guts to advance them are purged from the system."

You apparently get a hard on reading your own replies over and over again on random internet blogs. Makes you feel good doesn't it? You showed a random internet person what's what by calling him a Fascist.
BTW, this isn't Fascism. Perhaps you'd be better informed if you actually did some reading on real Fascism and what it does to language. I recommend Victor Klemperer's "The language of the Third Reich".

Unknown said...

Many commenters are making this about "feelings", whoa oh oh feelings

https://medium.com/projectinclude/i-am-disappointed-but-unsurprised-by-the-news-that-an-anti-diversity-sexist-racist-manifesto-is-5fdafbe19352

You can't argue with feelings.

Even better, your SJW speech always works and is 100% correct

REGARDLESS of the facts

Bix Cvvv said...

Ann - your post inspired a very good comment thread! I like the way your description triple-banked (pool terminology) the way the person - the younger McArdle, the person with the assumption in her mind that "everyone" she talked to at work had similar potential access to the summum bonum of romance, tragic or not - was responded to by (a) the first sad person and (b) the other sad people who, in a friendly way, stood up for the first sad person in a compassionate way, leading to the "you are not my people" reaction of (c) the character Megan McCardle describes as her younger self. (In her defense, she was making a rhetorical point - and while she does not have your experience in this world, including bearing a male child and watching said child grow into a man, she is a fairly observant person, and she probably knows that she was using a rhetorical device to make a point, rather than describing the actual real people in her anecdote. She is, after all, an economics blogger, and has never claimed to have the human insights of a Proust or an Austen or a Saint Frances de Sales).

Edward Bo said...

My daughters, both of whom got 800s on their math SATs, each had "these are not my people" moments in college -- one in computer science, one in biology. Both changed their majors to less technical fields due to this factor, not because the work was too hard.

A generation ago, my sister had the same realization after a year in a biology PhD program.

Meanwhile, my father, my brother, and I have all enjoyed careers with "our people".

LordSomber said...

What if you have a "these are not my people" response to your job?

"Those people" are usually the first to fail and/or quit in my experience. Thankfully.

DougWeber said...

I think I may be getting a handle on what Google’s problem is here.
If there exists a percentage of women who leave google because they do not feel at home and that percentage is higher for women than men, then even if Google hires fairly, that is half of hires are women and half men, the ration of men to women will increase over time. Check the math.

There are two solutions to this. One is to increase the percentage of the hires that are women to match the extra turnover. This have two problems for Google. The first is that it will be perceived as unfair. The second is worse. It means that Google, which tries to hire only the best, if forced to go deeper towards the median when hiring women. This would have to increase the turnover of women due to inability, just because some of the women are less capable. This exacerbates the problem of turnover.

The alternative is to change the environment so that women are less likely to not feel at home. But Google is trying to be on the cutting edge of tech. This requires a deep dedication. If a great idea appears, the employee cannot let something like a child’s play get in the way of following it. It is the extreme dedication to the job and the joys of the job that seems to be unacceptable to women more than to men.

So when the Justice Department comes to Google and says that they have too many men, there is not real solution.

handworn said...

As Will and Ariel Durant said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit." The people who love something that much that they do it for free on weekends, just for the coolness of it, will always, always, always be much better than those who are more well-rounded. And if one gender is playing at something when they're kids, like being a fireman, and does it obsessively as a teenager, like volunteering at the local fire company, and thinks about it all the time, then that gender will be disproportionately represented in that profession, and be disproportionately promoted. Bill Gates recently said something like, whatever you did or do obsessively as a teenager is what you have the greatest chance to be world-class at. It's overwhelmingly boys that are obsessively tech-geeky. Simple as that.