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Comment Re:A view from 50,000 feet (Score 1) 375

The reason that I like the Blake article is that she actually sat down and talked with the bankers. Not enough people actually do this, though I'm hoping I'll get the opportunity to do this in my own research. The bankers say pretty much what you would expect, they don't discriminate on gender, that they look fairly on everyone. And you know, I believe them. This issue arises from a number of levels, from education to parenting and life expectations.

But a big issue is that in people's minds, women are a risky investment because they might want kids in the future and therefore work less hard. This is not a fair way to judge people, men want kids too and will cut down on their work hours once they have them. But it's a view that's so deeply infused in our society that it's hard to get around.

Comment Re:I RTFA(bstract) (Score 1) 375

The Kauffman Firm Survey is not some internet poll. They contacted Every. Single. Firm that first filed employment taxes in 2005. I participated in a 2 hour seminar just on the various bias controls they used in the collection and analysis of the data.

There is some error in there to be sure, but rigorous controls were put in place to ensure consistancy and accuracy in the data. This is why the statistical measures all contain error terms.

Comment Re:Correlation and Causation ftw! (Score 1) 375

Oh I agree with you. It's an intractable problem. There's a poster down below who says that as an angel investor, he finds it hard to invest in women-run firms because they don't often have prior business experience. They don't have prior business experience because women have only entered technical fields in great numbers later than men.

The VCs aren't discriminating because they hate women. They are making decisions that are entirely rational based on their point of view. They meet less women entrepreneurs because their networks contain fewer women. The women that do pitch ideas to them will, on average, have less business experience than an average male entrepreneur. I can't blame the VC for not investing. It really is a social issue that doesn't have an easy solution. But bring up the issue a lot so that people are aware that there is discrimination is an important first step.

Comment Re:I RTFA(bstract) (Score 1, Informative) 375

Okay. I'm a geographer too, and I like that article, so I brought it up. If you want a more rigorous study, check out Coleman and Robb 2008 ( Right now it's just a working paper, but I think it's been accepted for publication. It's based off the Kauffman Firm Survey, which is a longitudinal survey of 4,928 entrepreneurs. It's get a crazy amount of data on all of them, like over 1,000 questions. It's an amazing resource, and even better, most of the data is publicly available! Check it out at This study shows fairly conclusively that women have a much harder time getting capital, even after controlling for individual and personal characteristics.

Comment Re:Correlation and Causation ftw! (Score 1) 375

Gender isn't important if there are enough people in the sector or occupation. Well, I mean, I would still be concerned if there's discrimination that favors or disfavors one gender over another, but it's not a critical issue.

It becomes an issue when there aren't enough people in it, and you need to get more. If there aren't enough women who want to become nurses, what's easier, trying to convince more women, who are essentially all tapped out, or try to encourage more men to join up?

It's the same thing with entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers. We need all of them. There are plenty of smart, talented and qualified women who don't enter because of both overt discrimination and more subtle forms of discouragement such as it being harder to get VC or bank investments.

And as for the studies: to quote XKCD, correlation doesn't imply causation, but it does wiggle it's eyes suggestively while gesturing towards causation. In the social sciences, statistical data provides the what, but theory and qualitative evidence (actually talking to people) provides us the how and why. It's hard, but when you look at dozens and dozens of studies, you start to see patterns emerge.

Comment Re:A view from 50,000 feet (Score 2, Insightful) 375

Not everyone gets VC, and it's not an unlimited supply. The figures I'm looking at now from the Kauffman Foundation say about $230 billion in US in 2008.

But, I don't think there's any reason to think that firms founded by women are any less productive or good targets for investment than those founded by men or by mixed-gender teams. In general, firms founded by women perform worse than by men, but this difference goes away once you look at firms in the same sectors (women are more likely to found firms in lower-profit sectors like retail and services).

VC's hard to get. But it should be equally hard to get. Right now it doesn't seem like it is.

Comment Re:Correlation and Causation ftw! (Score 1) 375

You're right, there aren't enough male nurses. Gender discrimination goes both ways. We need a lot more nurses in this country, and one way to reach that is to get over this stupid idea that it's emasculating to be a male nurse.

But, I'd also point out that a hell of a lot of nurses work 60+ hours a week in a much higher stress work place than a coder at a startup does.

Comment A view from 50,000 feet (Score 4, Insightful) 375

Okay, I guess I should get in here before it gets really bad. I'm a PhD student who studies entrepreneurship, so I've read a bit on the topic of gender discrimination and difference in entrepreneurship. In fact, I'm writing this instead of working on the lit review of my research proposal. There is plenty of evidence that women are discriminated when they look for loans or investments. A good read is Blake 2006 "Gendered Lending: Gender, Context and the Rules of Business Lending" in Venture Capital 8(2) pp. 183-201. Basisiaclly, there are pretty large, statistically signifigant, differences in loan approval rates between men and women, after controling for a host of factors like education, business plan, experience ect. Plenty of women applying for loans for high-tech businesses were told by the banker to instead start more traditionally women-oriented businesses like salons or clothes stores. On the venture capital side, access to venture capital is heavily dependent on social networks, if most venture capialists are men, then women will have a harder time getting into these networks. The old boys network still does exist, and it's hard to break in to.

But why does this matter? The fact is that entrepreneurship is the only way that the American economy is going to grow. This is the best feature of our economy. So sure, I agree that women might not be equally as interested in entering the technical fields as men (though I'd say this is due in large part to implicit and explicit discrimination rather than anything biological). But we need all the entrepreneurs we can get. If women, who as you recall make up half the population, can't get a fair shake at starting high-tech firms poised for fast growth and export-base sales. we're doing the economy a disservice.

Comment Re:Actually, you're a good example of that. (Score 1) 1255

But that's exactly what the actual article this story is based on was about. Someone raised the issue in a very calm and understanding manner. He didn't accuse the entire community of being sexist, but did bring up the issue that there are some implicit points that could be constructed as sexist by many members of the community, yet be seen as innocent jokes by the people who made them. And now we're in a flamewar.

This is actually a very big point for a lot of people working to end the more subtle forces of racism and sexism in our society. We're mostly beyond the point of abject and visible racism, sexism and homophobia. But, it's still a major part of our society. A lot of people who don't face jokes about how women should be in the kitchen making dinner (speaking of which, this'll be my last post in the thread because I have to go and cook a delicious thanksgiving dinner) don't see it as sexism, because it doesn't effect them. It's just a joke that they made. Same thing with saying that something's gay or faggy.

But, when it's done over and over again, it's not really a joke. So, I think a lot of the people talking about sexism in FOSS aren't asking you to change your entire life just to make sure no one in the world is ever offended again. But just to think about how other people might read what you write, and to put in the smallest modicum of effort so that people read what you actually mean instead of being turned off by how you say it.

Comment Re:Don't use terms you don't understand. (Score 0, Troll) 1255

Okay, let's take you're example of .01%. So, one out of every 1000 posts contains sexiest language. That's a problem in of itself. It doesn't solve the problem to say that other things are worse. Obviously 4Chan will have more sexist and racist comments than the Debian mailing list. Open source development is based on a community model of development. If you want it to succeed, you need to understand that when one part of the group gets attacked because of some intrinsic attribute about them, you're going to have problems. Do you want Linux distributions to be better? That means you need every single talented person who's willing to contribute to contribute. And I guarantee you there are a lot more women developers who would be willing to contribute than there are men who will quite over being "censored" when someone asks them not to make an ass of themselves.

Comment Re:Refreshment of memory (Score 4, Insightful) 1255

No, I don't think anyone said that. Though, you know, it would be nice if people realized that it is generally a bad thing for people to be able to make death threats against women without being called on it. Because these things escalate.

Here's the thing. We all want open source to succeed and grow bigger. That mean getting more developers and more users. But, if someone with a name like Cindy or Susan tries to contribute to a program and they're met with responses that treat them differently because of their gender, FOSS is going to run into problems.

Comment Re:Refreshment of memory (Score 4, Informative) 1255

Okay, let's try an example from a Debian commentor called MikeeUSA

The women of the “geek feminism” movement will be just as effective at excising men from the movement as Nina was at systematically destroying Hans Reiser’s life untill he saw no reason, nothing left in his life, that could hold him back from striking back.


And also

Yea you’ve become a developer and have done nearly nothing except shill your feminist shit and try to turn debian into a woman’s project (you are succeeding, men are leaving debian because of you and your ilk, worthless bitch).

examples taken from Geek Feminism


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Submission + - Unix Admin's Unit of Production? 4

RailGunSally writes: I am a (strictly technical) member of a large *NIX systems admin team at a Fortune 150. Our new IT Management Overlord is a hardcore beancounter from Hell. We in the trenches have been tasked with providing "metrics" on absolutely everything from system utilization to paperclip recycling. Of course, measuring productivity is right up there at the top of the list. We're stumped as to a definition of the basic unit of productivity for a *nix admin. There is a school of thought in our group that holds that if the PHBs are simple enough to want to operate purely from pie charts and spreadsheets, then we should just graph some output from /dev/random and have done with it. I personally love the idea, but I feel the need for due diligence, so I put the question to the Slashdotters: How does one reasonably quantify admin productivity?

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"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982