philosophy meta-forum

"The Empathy Gap in Tech" - also in philosophy

Ann

9 day(s) ago

There is little evidence that shows that harassment in tech is any higher than other industries, such as public administration, government, academia or media (in fact there is evidence that the prevalence is lower). Statistics collected on sexual harassment find, overwhelmingly, that the majority of reported cases occur in low-wage and service sector jobs. The causal evidence showing that sexism causes the gender imbalance simply isn’t there.

What we do know, however, is that while girls and women do meet the diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder, the ratio between men and women sits somewhere between 5:1 to 3:1. We also know that men and women’s interests diverge in ways that are congruent with Baron-Cohen’s systematising- empathising spectrum. Women overwhelmingly prefer working with people, and have “artistic” and “social” vocational interests, and men overwhelmingly prefer working with things and have “investigative,” “enterprising,” “realistic,” and “conventional,” interests.

Indeed, academics at the Heterodox Academy have concurred that the most important sex difference that is relevant to the question of unequal gender ratios in certain industries is that of enjoyment and interest. My interview subject, Gideon, did not need any direction from a teacher to learn coding. He learned it because he was transfixed by computers, and teaching himself to code was a pleasurable activity for him.

. . . .

He said that society increasingly sees groups instead of individuals, to the extent that group rights may supersede individual rights in all sorts of contexts, including politicised work environments. Because contemporary moral codes delineate women as vulnerable or marginalised, we stop seeing them as individuals with unique talents and idiosyncrasies, but as representatives of a victimised class. The reverse is true of men. Because women are now a victimised class, men are increasingly seen as victimisers, irrespective of their individual attributes or actions.

The second factor, he thought, was an attachment to an outdated, blank slate view of human nature. He says that many people still insist on seeing the human brain as predominantly moulded by culture, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. There tends to be a hesitancy towards attributing any differences between people to any cause that is biological in origin. This hesitancy has been around for decades, and appears like it will not be alleviated anytime soon.

And the third factor, Gideon said, was the empathy gap, where we tend to be more receptive to women’s pain than men’s. When women talk about being made to feel uncomfortable at work, or being sexually harassed, we feel empathy and want to punish the wrong-doers. But we don’t have the same reaction for “geeks,” or “techbros”. Because our understanding of neurodiversity is painfully lacking, our culture tends to view men as a homogenous category, seeing all men as inheritors of privilege and all men as possessing the masculine traits that foster toughness and resilience. We have a habit of ignoring those who don’t, and when they do talk about their vulnerability, we are inclined to ignore, or ridicule them for it.

The Empathy Gap in Tech: Interview with a Software Engineer

From the comments:

"People with ASD are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. Neurotypicals may think they are ’empathic’ but that often manifests itself in beating the living shit out of autistics.

That’s really what we see from The Guardian and other liberal media when they cover the tech industry; a desire to kerb stomp nerds for having the temerity to be good at their jobs instead of letting the less competent have a turn."

Ilkka

9 day(s) ago

Good points, but nothing new. I'm a PhD candidate, and my department has a TT opening. They're inviting their short list of four applicants for campus visits soon. All four are women. Their qualifications are good, but not spectacular. Given the market, I have no doubt that they received applications from better-qualified men, and they went in the trash. Given the demographics in philosophy, which I take to be based on the interest/enjoyment differences between men and women, I would be surprised if the four most qualified candidates were not all men, or at least 3/4. Competence takes a back seat to "social justice," as usual. They just hired a woman for a TT position last year, for fuck's sake.

-- White man ("Trade school, here I come")

Ando

9 day(s) ago

In 10 years any philosophy departments still in existence will be nothing more than women and aggrieved "people of color" lecturing about how evil white men are. In 20 years it will be dancing wildly to hip-hop soundtracks.

Yang

8 day(s) ago

The biggest contributing factor to the gender pay gap is that professions which are known to attract more women than men -- school teaching, nursing, caring, social work -- are paid like shit. If we paid nurses, teachers, etc. a wage that reflected the value to society of the work they do, rather than their individual bargaining power, there would probably be no gap.

Yang

8 day(s) ago

We've probably all had this experience with our students: you have men in the class who disproportionately want to be lawyers, bankers, professors, etc., and you have women in the class who disproportionately want to be school teachers, carers, etc.

You want to say to the female students, "You're as smart as the men, so why don't you want to be a lawyer?"... but then you remember that what the women want to do is actually more valuable to society than what the men want to do, and that we'd all be fucked if there weren't people doing those jobs, so you say nothing.

Cleomedes

8 day(s) ago

Good luck Ilkka and other white men! Heard the adjunct life can be tough :( - Not a white man

Ito

8 day(s) ago

Do you think school teachers are doing a good job? I get the opposite impression from my students.

Ito

8 day(s) ago

We've probably all had this experience with our students: you have men in the class who disproportionately want to be lawyers, bankers, professors

Yang

They also want to become scientists, inventors, surgeons, engineers, and philosophers.

Ilkka

8 day(s) ago

Good luck Ilkka and other white men! Heard the adjunct life can be tough :( - Not a white man

Cleomedes

Fuck that, I'm not going to work for slave wages. Unlike some whose stories I've read, I'm not so in love with academic philosophy as to stick around for table scraps. I love philosophy, and will always practice it, but it seems to me that the universities are doing more harm than good to genuine philosophy anyway ("publish or perish," etc.). Some of the job candidates I mentioned above have over two dozen conference presentations before finishing their PhDs. Like... why? Conferences contribute effectively nothing to philosophy, but they sure help to pad the CV. As my man Al Pacino said: "Charlie, it's all shit."

I wasn't kidding about trade school, though I have a few other backup plans as well. I defend next summer (2019), so it's not too early to be thinking about such things.


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