Friday, December 18, 2009

To a Pinker World

Pinkness
Nothing to do with Steven Pinker!
In the midst of all that I am drowning in (which spells work work work), I read this article about how "Instead of trying to change the women who do not relate to the stereotype, our research suggests that changing the image of computer science so that more women feel they fit in the field will go a long way to recruiting them into computer science" and I felt like throwing up! I can't believe that there are so many jobless people out there trying to figure out why some sex/race/creed is not interested in a particular job! As long as there is no legal and bureaucratic constraint, I think the reason why people don't get into a job is because they are not equipped for it or are not interested. Pretty simple. Why don't most men become cooks (though actually most chefs are men)? Because they are not interested or can't be creative enough! Someone who truly loves food will go and do it. Similarly, someone who truly loves fashioning clothes will go ahead and do it. If women don't like computer science they simply don't. This is also true about Math as a subject. Why should people who love computer science change their ways for those who don't in order to "change the image of computer science"?

I have been in the software industry for over 7 years and I have found only a handful of women truly interested in their jobs. We don't have coke cans or science fiction memorabilia in our cubicles. Most women are here to supplement the income of their house or make some money for themselves. They don't care about software or computer science. So be it with a lot of men, too, but when I assemble all those who love computer science and love hacking and coding and designing and coming up with new ideas, women are a minority (if present). Not because of coke cans and Star Trek. I am part of the invention evaluation team at my organisation. How many inventions come in from women!? You can count them on a pair of hands. Why? Not because of Star Trek and coke cans. Sheesh!! I can't believe this is a university professor (and no guesses, she is a woman). I would love to see women in software industries. It can lend perspective to design (esp. UI). But if they don't like it, I will let them be. It is like forcing the women in your house to fall in love with a Man U game by watching it on a pink TV or having the players occasionally enact a scene from "Kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi". The content is the same, for Pete's sake!!

These sort of lame studies ruin the technical edge and vitality of organisations and departments. How? Let me give you a personal example. Last year two papers of mine got selected at two very prestigious conferences. I was excited and applied for travel permit. My "illustrious" organisation refused citing curbs on expenses. Sounded fair to me so I kept quiet. Then I got to know that a female manager was being sent to CA, US to attend a "Women in Technology" conference (which was internal to the company and not even a worldwide conference) for which she was just an attendee and contributing nothing beyond her weighty presence! Here is a technology company that prefers this gimmick to actual technical vitality and participation in IEEE and ACM conferences. All in order to claim a tag of a "women-friendly" company or some such crap.

If the women were mature enough, they would go visit software companies and computer science labs to see what reality is and form their own impression rather than live off stereotypes. Frankly, it is often difficult working with some women who play the sob story and try to get away with actual hard work. Not all of them are like that (and I know of one who can put any guy to shame) but a lot of them will capitalise on their being a woman with "so many roles to play" and sob their way out of real work. Frankly, we need people who can work and with brains and who are self-motivated: sex/age/race no bar. I can do without people who want me to grow a beard in order to feel more welcome or prefer floral wallpaper in the office. Most east coast (US) companies have the worst interior decor in all their worldwide offices. Try convincing them to invest dollars in better decor!

And what then happens to a guy who likes to have the coke cans and pizza crumbs on his desk to feel more at home and in the peak of his form? He has to clean up so that some women can join his office? Coming to think of it, he might just agree (till they join)! Guys!
I would like Ms. Sapna Cheryan to try this recommendation on the annual Harley Davidson gathering. I am sure we will have an article that says:


"When people think of computer science riding bikes the image that immediately pops into many of their minds is of the computer geek bearded man in black leather surrounded by such things as computer games, science fiction memorabilia and junk food boots, babes and beer," said Sapna Cheryan, a University of Washington assistant professor of psychology and the study's lead author. "That stereotype doesn't appeal to many women who don't like the portrait of masculinity that it evokes. We need to have pink bikes with wider seats and a place to keep pet poodles."

Given that Harley Davidson lovers frowned on the introduction of the V-Rod 7, I can only imagine their response to this!!

Rule of Thumb: If you don't like it, find something you like to do and do it. Don't ask the world to change for you.

8 comments:

  1. This discussion is endless and one of my favourites! We ( humans ) make a huge issue out of our gender, don't we? Times are changing.. the roles men/women play today have changed so much! I think people should stop getting so touchy about their preferences, I mean.. If I like pink and hate cooking: which stereotype would I fit into? There are all kinds of people, packaged differently.How can there be one formula?
    If you just do what you love and do it passionately, nothing else matters!

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  2. Yea, long time since I dropped in to see what's cooking here :D. Nevertheless, the headline caught my attention! Hmmm... seriously, I agree with you on your punchline - the very last line in the post. BUT, I'm not sure I see eye to eye about the rest of it!

    Whether man or woman; its what you do and how you do what you do that matters!

    Having said that, is man given the tougher job? Is woman given the lesser? Timeless argument. An argument which I shall NOT get myself into.

    Why then did I bother to comment? Just to say - Unlike what many may say, it has never been Man Vs Woman in ANY Faculty of work. It has always been about doing what one does with happiness, because only then will one's work be good. Work should never be about being the BEST. Work should be about doing the best one can. For there will always be people who are better than you and lesser than you. If you look always at those who are better and compare you will turn bitter. If you look always at those who are lesser - you will become proud and vain! Its not about competing and winning with others, its about competing and winning ones own self :)

    Acha, I'm truly sorry I forgot / lost your email id and so when I decided to get back to blogging (have my reasons - its on my blog) I could not send you the invite! Because I made it Private. Right now, because my mind is set on a certain template - I had to open up my blog and so it is for the moment Public. Do check it out :) and do comment - I know you will!

    Please be patient with the homepage loading - if you are not on a DSL connection. Anyway, I will be working on that today - I have an idea ... and I will look into it ...

    Like always, I've ended up writing up a Big Comment!!! LOL.

    Do, let me know if the email id on your profile is the real one. I will send you the invite to my Blog when I close it off again - which I do intend to do soon - as soon as I clear up 3 glitches in my template *Very hopeful grin*

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  3. Dear P,
    I agree with you and I suppose you are one of the very few women who would think like this. :-)

    Dear L,
    Long time no see. How are you? I think we are saying the same thing so I wonder why we aren't looking eye to eye (I mean your eye to mine, not mine to mine). Yes, my email ID on the blog is real! :-) Whether people do their best or not or whether they are the best or not is largely irrelevant in the context of work - the job needs to be completed as expected. Whether that requires the best in me or not is moot. This post is primarily about a study making a big issue about gender preferences and sounding like wanting to change the entire landscape because the viewer likes sunflowers no matter what...

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  4. When I read all your vast posts filled with absolute sense...I kind of feel confused as what to comment..

    Though stupid it sounds I can't keep myself off from commenting on every post I read no matter I understand it completely or not.

    Like the last line though!

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  5. Hilarious :)
    And to think that I chose to wear a pink t shirt and a pink jacket today further tickled me upon reading this post.
    Poor E! Your miseries upon being denied the travel permit (and that of watching your weighty colleague leave for CA) must have been immensely huge to have compelled you to put such a pinke image on your blog! :-D (the wireless mouse on the heart shaped mousepad is too much radiation for the eyes to bear!)
    Well..having studied at a girls school and college, I ended up knowing many women, most of who were brilliant students, very practical and observant. We used to debate a lot on whether to 'pink-it-or-not' and there was a general consensus that baby pinks and baby blues look good on well..babies! So unless someone's external projection is designed to be 'miss/mister (more missy-misters out there these days!) pinky', pink's relevance remains limited to what it is: an RGB variant :)
    Joblessness.. well, we may as well put up a banner and ask people to accumulate and shout their voices hoarse on all irrelevant issues :)

    I don't believe any woman in this century who shoulders the responsibility of at least one more human being (child, parent, sibling, grandparent), will really have the time or patience to indulge in eulogizing pink to this degree :)

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  6. Dear Y,
    :-) Don't ponder much and feel free to comment as you deem fit. Glad you liked the last line!


    Dear M,
    Very very long time, no see. :-) I have nothing against pink and I think I wore a pink shirt myself on the day I wrote this! It is not as much about pink as it is about people wanting the rest of the world to change to their convenience. Unfortunately, it usually does come up in gender conflicts, but it is not just that. Take for instance operating in a predominantly Muslim locality. If the people there have followed something for eons then it makes sense to respect that rather than demand that they change things in order to let everyone in. Flexibility is vital but not at the cost of losing all unique characteristics. So it is not that much about pink...

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  7. Hai E,

    You got tagged by me.Visit my blog for more details. If you are free and don't consider it a time waste. Please do it. :)

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  8. Getting back to what it is I dont see eye to eye - I kinda dont remember now *Sheepish Grin* Or it just isn't very important. I thought I must come back here and say that!

    Honestly, too excited to lend a helping hand on the tempy modification. Wanna go back and look into the links which helped me out with mine and send it to you ...

    Why dial-up? Why not DSL? Or that Airtel USB one ... I dont know its speed or anything, but is it good? Last I saw of it was in 3Idiots!!! LOL

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