Computer Technology Article 2014

Computer Technology Article 2014-40
For one, the products that the tech industry creates are shaping the future for everyone. “If we do that, there’s no question we’ll more than double the rate of technology output in the world,” Larry Page, the chief executive of Google, said last spring.“Women are increasingly consumers; they’re not going to like products that don’t work for them,” said Londa Schiebinger, a Stanford professor who runs the Gendered Innovations project, which encourages engineers and scientists to consider gender when developing new products. Yet at Google, less than a fifth of the engineers are women.“Titstare is an app where you take photos of yourself staring at tits,” Mr. If ever there was proof that the tech industry needed more women, she thought, this was it. Shevinsky, 35, wasn’t the only one who was disgusted by the presentation. She joined in, writing a blog-post manifesto: “I thought that we didn’t need more women in tech. The next day, Pax Dickinson, who was her business partner in a start-up called Glimpse Labs, as well as the chief technology officer of the news site Business Insider, took to Twitter to defend the Titstare pair against accusations of misogyny. Women who enter fields dominated by men often feel this way. But then something happens — a slight or a major offense — and they suddenly feel like outsiders.

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“But I don’t want to raise my hand and call negative attention toward myself, and become the woman who is the problem — ‘that woman.’ In start-up culture they protect their own tribe, so by putting my hand up, I’m saying I’m an ‘other,’ I shouldn’t be there, so for me that’s an economic threat.”Ms.

Horvath eventually decided that it was worth the risk, and quit.

She had been aware of earlier cringe-making tweets in which her business partner had joked about rape or questioned even the most basic feminist precepts. But after the Twitter controversy, she decided that she just couldn’t work with him anymore. Shevinsky’s epiphany, however, wasn’t just about Mr. It was about computer-engineering culture and her relationship with it. ’ and there’s all these complicated answers like, ‘School advisers don’t have them take math and physics,’ and it’s probably true,” said Lauren Weinstein, a man who has spent his four-decade career in tech working mostly with other men, and is currently a consultant for Google.“But I think there’s probably a simpler reason,” he said, “which is these guys are just jerks, and women know it.”The choice for people who are uncomfortable with the “bro” culture is to try to change it or to leave — and even women who are fed up don’t always agree on how to go about making a change. Six women programmed one of the most famous computers in history — the 30-ton Eniac — for the United States Army during World War II. Oldenziel said, once programming gained prestige, women were pushed out.

(“Women’s suffrage and individual freedom are incompatible. She had enjoyed being “one of the bros” — throwing back whiskey and rubbing shoulders with M. But leaving can be hard too.“There was only one thing I wanted to do,” Ms. Over the decades, the share of women in computing has continued to decline.

And start-ups pride themselves on a lack of bureaucracy, forgoing big-company layers like human resources departments.

They say they can move faster that way, without becoming bogged down in protocol. executive only in January.“If there is no structure, that’s actually more harmful to marginalized people,” Ms.

But a result can be an anything-goes atmosphere, said Julie Ann Horvath, a software designer and developer who publicly quit her job last month at Git Hub, the coding website, saying that there was a culture of intimidation and disrespect of women. Horvath said in an interview while she still worked at Git Hub. Tech needs to grow up in a lot of ways.”At Git Hub, Ms.

Horvath, who was the only female developer at the company when she started, said she once declined a romantic relationship with one of her co-workers.

But it’s hard, because this is basically the only field that I’ve ever known. I just wanted to build stuff.”“But Titstare showed me that was no longer a viable option,” she said. A political theory major, she learned to code from a boyfriend, and she described their engineer friends as “forward-thinking feminists.”She worked in product development for a number of start-ups and was a co-founder of a dating site. Last spring, they decided to build the app together. Shevinsky had closed her dating site to work on Glimpse. Dickinson, who had his full-time job at Business Insider, helped when he could.“I remember thinking just that I was so lucky that Pax was going to work with me,” Ms. “At the time I was still relatively unknown, and he was one of the best technologists I’d met.”Computer science wasn’t always dominated by men.

And is it right for me to have to leave when I’m not creating the problem? Shevinsky never received death threats, but she experienced her share of come-ons and slights. Dickinson’s “It is not misogyny” tweet, she quit Glimpse. Married and then 40, he was more experienced and serious about work than many other tech types she knew, and she said he always treated her with respect. “We had to address our culture, because something was really not working.”“We see these stories, ‘Why aren’t there more women in computer science and engineering? At first, they conceived it as a sexting product, but later they shifted to a service that could be used by anyone concerned about keeping their messages safe from prying eyes. “In the beginning, the word ‘computers’ meant ‘women,’ ” says Ruth Oldenziel, a professor at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands who studies history, gender and technology.


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