A woman who wrote about sexism in the tech industry says that fixing sexism can make things worse.
I thought this report by Ashe Schow in the Washington Examiner was quite fascinating: “Woman who helped launch the current uproar over sexism in tech is sorry.”
Fixing sexism, it turns out, is a bit complicated.
In the first place, I’m not sure the problem was correctly identified, from what I read in the story:
In 2013, Elissa Shevinsky wrote an article titled “That’s it, I’m finished defending sexism in tech.” The article was based on her concerns that a major tech expo would open with a presentation with an app called “Titstare,” which, as the name implied, allowed users to take photos of themselves staring at women’s breasts.
The word “sexism” is being used to cover everything from a desire to not have women play on men’s teams in football to (as in the case above) exploitative immorality. Yes, the presence of women might stop some of this, but that isn’t really the direct issue. And, in fact, even if the tech industry was dominated by women, it would still be possible for such apps to be created if there was a perceived market for them.
Furthermore (and here we come closer to what Shevinsky herself is saying now), the fact that more women don’t want to go into the tech industry isn’t proof of sexism. In fact, it might be sexist to try to get women into the tech industry. How is targeting women and producing inducements to make sure more of them go into the field compatible with equality?
Shevinsky is now sorry for whatever role she played in creating all of this outrage and silliness. She’s sorry, she writes in her new book, Lean Out, and she adds that her initial position was “flawed.”
“I’m glad to come out in ‘Lean Out’ and say that my original essay — the one that has been the foundation for people assuming that I am [a social justice warrior] — was deeply flawed,” Shevinsky told the Washington Examiner. “I do see sexism and gender issues, a culture war, in Silicon Valley, but the knee-jerk responses (recruit more women! attack the men!) are not the answer.”
Shevinsky now thinks there is a more positive solution to the issue of sexism in tech.
“I think the more important meaning is to actively choose a path that’s yours — for women to create their own companies and their own infrastructures, to actively seek out people and create places that are a fit for them,” Shevinsky said. “Women are martyring themselves trying to change the existing culture, and it’s miserable for everyone.”
When asked what she would say to those who would accuse her of telling women to go elsewhere, Shevinsky explained that she wanted a free-market approach to reforming the tech industry.
“I’m not saying that men and women should be separate, but rather that we should control our own destinies,” Shevinsky said. “Complaining can be effective but also authoritarian, and often unpleasant for everyone involved. Building something new can be even more impactful, and I believe it’s a healthier approach.”
I think this also applies to many conservative issues. Homeschooling, private schooling, and the various developments in between (online classes, teaching co-ops) have been far more effective in producing better education than attempts to reform public school.
Right now, conservatives feel like they are being beaten up (with reason) on the homosexual marriage issue. But I remember when stopping the barbarity of abortion seemed impossible. However, even though it is far from outlawed yet, we are winning hearts and minds and state laws like I never thought would be possible.
It seems to me that we have to remind ourselves that we are always in a war of attrition. When Liberals win a victory they inevitably seem to act like George W. Bush landing on that aircraft cruiser before the Iraqi insurgency started up.
In my mind, the metaphorical insurgency is simply people refusing to believe that marriage is an institution that includes two (or more!) generic “persons” rather than a man and a woman. And people who also remind Liberals of other traditional freedoms like the freedom of conscience and the freedom of religion and freedom of thought. Eventually, after the thrill of victory dies down, people begin to think about what they have lost. They start to lose the will to cover up the social problems they are creating. The important thing for us to do is to keep witnessing to the truth.
While it will be a hassle to dodge and fight through whatever thoughtcrime laws the Liberals will attempt to use, the important thing is that Bible-believing Christians and fellow-traveling conservatives keep “building something new” with their lives.