Re: Guest Post - Towards gender parity: blind auditions for tech?

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They've never even seen seen a vulva viola.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 2:45 PM
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I should probably have referred to the rampant sexism when I was briefing our intrepid Unfogged special agent for his forthcoming jump into Vienna...


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:30 PM
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TWYRCL reports that supposedly-blind auditions are, even at the highest levels, far from it.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:32 PM
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Such are the opinions.

Somehow that phrasing makes it even more assholish than it was before, which was already more than I would have thought possible.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:35 PM
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Hmmm, yes, I believe you said something about it being Europe at its most enlightened...


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:35 PM
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Am stumped by "twyrcl" - ?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:35 PM
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6

A google search asks "Did you mean 'twerk'?"


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:38 PM
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6: RTFA.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:39 PM
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RTFA (Or how Flip got lucky by following the advice of the Mineshaft)


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:40 PM
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The problem with blind auditions in music, of course, is that they promote the fallacy that there are objective or consistent differences in playing quality among the very high end of musicians.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:40 PM
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Actually I guess this comment is more informative on the actual adoption of the name.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:41 PM
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Relevant.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:42 PM
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And here the ultimate origin of the name (backstory in earlier comments in that thread).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:47 PM
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I guess you're all too young to remember when Unfogged was an exquisite, hand-stretched organism that began to wither and die when exposed to the insidious vagendas of the commenters we old-timers call Women.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 3:57 PM
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I would be delighted to do some blinded interviews (I've now done about 200 of the conventional sort), but it's hard to see how to make the practical aspect work; there's a lot of conversation in an interview, even when the work-product of the interview is mostly code.

Once or twice a phone interview with a shared document for coding has become a text-based chat, because of difficulties with the phone connection or the spoken accent or both; it was much harder and slower to communicate that way. Still, it could be tried for the initial phone screening, at least the way we do them.

(It does make me extra sad when I interview some candidate who is of an identifiably different background (not white or Asian, or not male) and they truly, utterly bomb out.)


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:12 PM
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Good lord the thread in 13 cracked me up all over again.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:20 PM
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the fallacy that there are objective or consistent differences in playing quality among the very high end of musicians

I'd be curious to hear more. Is the fallacy that there are settled and appreciable criteria exist for what constitutes, say, a master violinist? Or is the fallacy that that it can be reliably determined whether any given "very high end violinist" satisfies those settled and appreciable criteria more often than another?


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:24 PM
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I don't have the data at hand, but I strongly suspect the overwhelming factor in tech is the supply of candidates and not interview bias. I.e., I would be surprised if female candidates go from resume to offer at significantly different rates than men; the problem is there's not enough resumes from females.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:29 PM
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17: And what did it matter if the criteria are not "objective" as long as the subjectivity is gender- (and race- and whatever-) blind?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:34 PM
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Yawnoc, this is going to sound more personally aggrieved than I mean to, but what evidence do you have that tech would be distinct from other fields?

That is, it's my understanding that there is a fair bit of research showing that women are generally less likely to get interviewed, less likely to get callbacks, less likely to get offers, and to get lower offers when they do. (Leaving aside a few outlier fields like childcare where there is a deep stigma against men.)

So: Why would tech be different from other fields?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:36 PM
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I guess you're all too young to remember when Unfogged was an exquisite, hand-stretched organism that began to wither and die when exposed to the insidious vagendas of the commenters we old-timers call Women.

Things started to go downhill when we switched to blind auditions for commenters.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:45 PM
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17: my understanding, more or less (that I don't have a cite at hand for, so, you know) is that blind ratings of playing quality are more variable for a given player at different times/with different pieces than they are between credibly qualified players, so that an audition (or even multiple auditions) just isn't telling the raters much about the relative quality of playing. I believe the paper summarized in 12 cites relevant things, but I'm not totally sure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:46 PM
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Of course many companies prefer the other type of"blind interview", in which the person is blind to the fact they're being interviewed. Look up the"mirrorocracy".


Posted by: cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:51 PM
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I can't really speak to tech in general. At my company (which is also Nathan's company) these things are obsessively tracked, and I've seen no evidence that women are disadvantaged in interviews. Fine, that's one company, you say, and there's substantial evidence of widespread sexism in the field, you say. True, but my company is an existence proof that gender bias can be addressed without blind interviews, if the leadership actually cares about it.

I'd guess that trouble might lurk in the resume screening process. There are studies showing race and gender bias there, and it's much more difficult to control for when 95% of everything is crap.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:53 PM
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13, 16: It reminds me of how much I love hate you damned dirty apes reprobates.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 4:54 PM
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Overheard on Muni yesterday:

A: (describing visit to friend's workplace at major social media company): It's crazy. They have a climbing wall, dry cleaning service, postal services, etc.

B: Do they have childcare?

A: No. (Goes on to describe how the company's "demographics" mean childcare isn't an important need for their employees and how they seem to be targeting men in their early to mid 20s in their recruitment.)

Turns out the friend was working for a consulting firm that, one month into her maternity leave from the consulting company, was bought by the social media company and assigned to market some of its services. The consulting firm was woman-owned, had generous maternity policies and helped with childcare. The friend is wearing down commuting one hour each way, appears to have to work from home to fit in hours around child care, and is getting ready to quit.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 5:02 PM
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Providing really good childcare (pardon the phrase) at scale is a problem on par with affordable housing and effective mass transit (I.e., impossible unless you're not America).


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 5:09 PM
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I'd guess that trouble might lurk in the resume screening process.

This does seem like a big one.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 5:12 PM
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27: i.e. eminently solvable if you're a large tech company with the capitalization of same?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 5:14 PM
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27: only child care doesn't have the same constraints as the other two. A company doesn't need outside cooperation to provide it the way it does affordable housing or mass transit.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 5:24 PM
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And if my experience is any guide, child care will start rising on the social media companies' list of priorities in about 10 years. The large tech company I worked at went through exactly that transition.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 5:28 PM
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Whatever the faults of blind auditions, there is a curious temporal link between their adoption and improvements in gender & ethnic parity.

Also, was reminded in reading about Abbie Conant's travails what a loathsome misogynist Celibadache was. Yowza.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 5:31 PM
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Re 27: It occurs to one that the three things are related, since childcare requires real estate, proximity to housing and the means to transport children to and from home and their parents to and from work. It's appalling how many people's commutes are dominated by getting their kids to preschool.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 5:31 PM
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30 see 33. Also there are significant regulatory hurdles to providing commercial childcare. My impression is the Bay Area daycare market is about as bad as housing, on the supply side.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 5:35 PM
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For the record, my company, in all its largesse, does not provide significant help with child care for 90+% of employees who need it.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 5:41 PM
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It occurs to one that the three things are related, since childcare requires real estate, proximity to housing and the means to transport children to and from home and their parents to and from work. It's appalling how many people's commutes are dominated by getting their kids to preschool.

These things (besides the real estate) are all resolved if the company provides onsite childcare.

Anyway, like benefits and healthcare, I'd rather a national daycare system available to all were established. Also a summer care system. It's insane to think about how many parents are patching together summer care they can't really afford, because we've got three months that no one gives a shit about considering to be a problem.

Actually I know several k-12 teachers who are semi-trapped as teachers because it at least grants them the summers off to watch the kids (and to do bigger, more fun stuff). I wonder how widespread that is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 6:08 PM
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I've been in tech companies for 30+ years as an IC, Sr manager and exec. Every single one claimed they took great care that there was no sexist employment outcomes. Every company was wrong. Watching my wife land a new position as a senior level programmer this year reinforced that opinion. She is in a hot field - data science - and even places like Google sucked in the interview process.

Doing a blinded interview for the technical piece would be pretty straightforward and I seriously suspect would surprise lots of unknowing dudebros.

DN


Posted by: Don N. | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 7:11 PM
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What were ways that they sucked in interviews?

I'm very sympathetic to the idea of doing blind pair-programming stuff instead of live interviews. It would result in a lot of (mostly up-front, one-time) inconvenience for those doing the interviewing, so it's not surprising that there's pushback. Plus, it's not easy to get buy-in on a policy whose entire rationale is "your instincts are not to be trusted". Again, I think they should do it; I'm just not at all surprised that they don't.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 7:20 PM
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I don't have much insight into tech in general, but from my wife's experience the video game industry seemed sexist as fuck.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 7:40 PM
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The sexism in classical music has to be to some extent driven by the fact that the whole thing is completely prestige driven to begin with. It isn't just that members of the Vienna Philharmonic could be replaced by women in a blind situation and might be judged the same or better. They could be replaced by machines and judged the same or better.

A straightforward example: you set up a screen and hear to real musicians play live and one recording, replayed over a high end sound system. The recording could easily get the job.

Well, you say, the recording doesn't have the flexibility of a real musician. But I bet a sound engineer with enough high end equipment could produce a completely synthesized recording of any arbitrary piece from the western classical canon that would fool 95% of the classical music listening public.

Sure, they may be some real connoisseurs out there who can tell the difference between the highest end of the digital and the live here. But are there enough of them to support a symphony orchestra?

No. Of course not. The money for the orchestra comes from people who aren't motivated by the sonic qualities. They want the prestige that comes with saying they listen to this rare, hard to produce stuff.

So the sales of the product actually depends not on the product itself, but on the stories that get told about how the product is made. A bunch of misogynist claptrap about the uniqueness of the orchestra motivates the status seekers, so the orchestra stays in business.

Music performance has a lot in common with athletics. What you are paying for isn't just the product. Its the knowledge that the product was produced in a way that amazes you. For some audiences, the amazement might come from knowing that someone had to work so hard to make the music, and was motivated by these emotions and these ideas about the composer. For other audiences, the knowledge must be that the the artist comes from some privileged identity group. (or alternately, in some genres some radically unprivileged group.)

In other words, what Tweety said, x10. The Vienna Philharmonic exists because fascists want to hear music by fascists, not because there is some objectively high quality music that could, unbeknownst to the Viennese music world, could be produced by women.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 7:47 PM
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That was long, and Becks style, if not btocked. I'm going to bed, and I'll see if I made any sense in the morning.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 7:48 PM
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40 is true, of course, but is true for anything, including tech. Nobody ever is hiring anybody just because they are the sickest of sick programmers. Nobody ever knows all of the skills they are looking for in hiring. It is per se an implicit and intuitive process.

It is of course -- of course! -- true that blind auditions improve gender balance, and that is very much a good thing. But it is equally true that what is happening in blind auditions is that one set of (historically incredibly harmful) basically arbitrary but commonly assented-to criteria is being replaced with a different set of (hopefully less harmful) basically arbitrary and hopefully commonly assented-to criteria.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 7:51 PM
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I still don't see why everybody doesn't just record a whole all of the orchestra stuff that has been written and then let everybody go learn a different type of music or petroleum engineering.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 7:53 PM
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Probably that was supposed to be "the whole of all of" or "a whole lot of" and I got confused.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 7:57 PM
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The analogy to sports totally undercuts your argument. It's really really easy to tell the difference between the NBA and the NCAA tournament.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 8:00 PM
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45: in one of them, the (far smaller pool of) athletes get paid?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 8:12 PM
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I'd like to see a machine do THIS, helpy-chalk!!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 8:14 PM
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I'd guess that trouble might lurk in the resume screening process. There are studies showing race and gender bias there, and it's much more difficult to control for when 95% of everything is crap.

But it should be easy to do gender-blind screening of resumes... just blank out the names and gender-specific pronouns.

It may be difficult to detect bias in that part of the process, but it's easy to prevent it.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 8:37 PM
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Here's what I was talking about in 23.

The problem is that Silicon Valley has gone completely to the other extreme. We've created a make-believe cult of objective meritocracy, a pseudo-scientific mythos to obscure and reinforce the belief that only people who look and talk like us are worth noticing. After making such a show of burning down the bad old rules of business, the new ones we've created seem pretty similar.

And the most maddening thing:

Here's an excerpt from the blog of a San Francisco startup:
---I asked her how she was doing in the interview process and she said, "I'm actually still trying to get an interview."
---"That's weird." I told her. "I thought you had already met with them a few times."
---"Well, I grabbed coffee with the founder, and I had dinner with the team last night, and then we went to a bar together."
---I chuckled. She was clearly confused with the whole matter. I told her, "Look, you just made it to the third round".
Clearly, the confusion is her fault, right? Let's review the bidding. A capable professional expressed interest in working for a company. Instead of talking with her about that in plain English, she was held at arm's length for days while The Culture examined her for defects: coffee dates in the afternoon, conversations over dinner. When she gets the invisible nod, her reward is a "spontaneous" invitation to a night of drinking with the team. You have to wonder why intelligent people would devise an interview process so strange & oblique that the candidate doesn't even know it's happening.

Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 8:37 PM
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The Berlin Philharmonic is supposed to have a laudable audition process.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 8:38 PM
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just blank out the names and gender-specific pronouns.

And not mention vasa deferentia?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 8:44 PM
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39: the video game industry is, IME, even worse than the tech industry at large. Not that that's a defense of the industry in general.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 9:05 PM
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My mom was a 'pioneer' IT person in Geneva in the eighties and nineties. In the second company she worked for, a pretty good sized Swiss company, she was the first professional woman period. Being a pioneer is not recommended. Also, apparently the US in the late seventies was a hell of a lot better for female professionals than Geneva ten or twenty years later.

45 Time to repeat my view that the enormous popularity of NCAA basketball shows that the idea that men don't want to watch women's pro basketball because the women are much worse players than the men is bullshit. Your average NCAA tournament starting player is so much worse than even benchwarmers in the NBA it's not even funny.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 9:29 PM
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||
Resumed bleg: What if the cold I get all the time were 1-2 days of discomfort and chills and minor fever and then I always had a cough for a while? Might it be chronic bronchitis?
|>


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 11:03 PM
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No idea, but you're late for the show in the other thread.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 11:04 PM
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I agree with 53.last.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 11:07 PM
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Geez, teo. Everyone should get a little sick leave.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 11:09 PM
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Commie.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-20-14 11:11 PM
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While I don't doubt it's right that variation between performances is of the same order as variation between players, I can still see the usefulness of auditions. Different players may interpret pieces in ways that offer a better or worse fit for the style or repetoire of the ensemble, for example.

Anyone who listens to much solo or small ensemble chamber music will definitely have very strong preferences for interpretative styles of their favourite pieces. The idea that there's no difference between players is daft, even if on a broad technical level they are all pretty equal.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 12:17 AM
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27, 29: if Google started to offer child care, protesters would be crowding round to vomit on the nannies.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 2:37 AM
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Also, blind interviews are all very well if you are recruiting for a job which doesn't involve ever talking to other people, but otherwise, not.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 2:39 AM
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The point, upthread, that the CV-filtering stage might be the hardest to fix is borne out by this story:

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/aug/14/problem-with-algorithms-magnifying-misbehaviour

(Medical school programs computer to run a multivariate regression on the variables in its application form to see which ones are predictive of success. Realises only later that they have created the world's first racist computer.)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 2:48 AM
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A) Relevant.

B) The use of blind auditions works for major symphony orchestras in part because they get a huge number of applicants for each open position, who need to be evaluated against each other. I expect it is much less useful if you only have a single applicant at a time who has to be given an up/down decision (our situation). Every such candidate is going to be given a pretty intense individual scrutiny.

C) Outside of personal networks, the major source of resumes is recruiters who specialize in our field. We don't like to use recruiters very often because of the major additional expense, but when we do, the recruiter knows who the candidates are, having contacted them individually. Blinding the resume to us isn't going to help much if there is bias on the part of the recruiter.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 2:48 AM
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Should a passing FPP perhaps put a few backslashes in the corporate name in 60?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 3:26 AM
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I'm figuring that Google is inherently about as googleproofed as a name can get. It's like talking about sexing Motumbo -- we can do it all day, but unless he's a truly, insanely, committed vanity googler, he's very unlikely to show up here either to object or to request followthrough.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 4:08 AM
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Yeah - if I were google I would concentrate on googling "googleproof"


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 5:54 AM
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You have to figure that Google has the capacity to "Search disregarding typographical symbols in the middle of words" as well as one that takes strings composed of letters and symbols and does the obvious substitutions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 6:08 AM
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Based on the gmail spam filters, I'd say they've gotten pretty good at it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 6:15 AM
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I got a whole mountain of enlargement spam at the weekend along with weight loss spam in the S_A_M_E S..T..Y..L..E and was momentarily distracted by the thought a novice programmer pasting the wrong two bits of the spamming algortihm together and posting out several million heart-warming testimonies from men who had successfully lost POUNDS off their penis.

Unfortunately, I mentioned this to the editor's secretary, who had asked why I was laughing.

(Christ, is it this obvious I am supposed to be writing about women bishops?)


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 6:18 AM
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"...said the actor to the bishoptress."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 6:38 AM
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I don't see any need to web-search-proof that web search company's name. I'm trying to be discreet; I'm not actually that paranoid about it.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 6:52 AM
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61: trust me, LOTS of talking to people in symphony orchestras.

I was interested to see how long it would take for the likely single most important difference to surface in this discussion. I'm on my phone as per usual, so may have missed it. Here it is - they're typically unionized, symphony musicians. So not dependant on "will" or "commitment" of management working in Olympian splendor towards our brighter future. Workers have an independent voice and structure to enforce actual change.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 6:55 AM
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72.1: good point...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 6:57 AM
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What is there to say about women bishops? They're bishops, the same as any other bishop apart from some irrelevant biological details. Do you talk about Junia or Priscilla or something? They weren't bishops anyway, they were prophets or teachers, which Didache seems to regard as more honourable jobs than mere bishoping. In your position the only thing I could think of to write would be "All done. Move on."


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 6:58 AM
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72.2: Union leaders aren't sexist?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 6:59 AM
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74: that's about all I can think of to write, too. UNfortunately., the commission demands about 1,994 further words. Preferably different ones.

I will talk about lesbians, I think, and their curious invisibility in this context.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:04 AM
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74: personally I am firmly opposed to the ordination of women as bishops.
Mind you, I am firmly opposed to the ordination of men as bishops too. I'm just generally anti-bishop.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:05 AM
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I will talk about lesbians, I think, and their curious invisibility in this context.

Like the Predator!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:06 AM
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@74: If the churches switched to blind auditions, I bet there would be more women bishops.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:09 AM
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75: sure some are, but once there is son impetus for change (typically a combination of legal requirements, progressive pressure from some musicians and bad publicity), there is a structure other than management through which to effect change.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:14 AM
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Resumed bleg: What if the cold I get all the time were 1-2 days of discomfort and chills and minor fever and then I always had a cough for a while? Might it be chronic bronchitis?

I don't know about bronchitis but don't you have health insurance now? Just a thought!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:16 AM
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Predator?
Oh, god, now I can't get out of my head an image of the Rev'd professor J--- M--- fitted with stubby wings, two engines, and a payload of missiles under her armpits, patrolling up and down over the lake on the campus at York University, taking out the fundies when they sneak out of the hall to read their bibles in peace.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:18 AM
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82. I'm sure you can get two thousand words out of that.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:21 AM
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Illustrated with a Photoshopped image of a mitre apparently floating in mid-air five and a half feet off the ground, and the caption "OMG INVIZIBLE LEZBIAN!!1!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:25 AM
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@78: A scifi movie about invisible lesbians from outer space seems like a no brainer, but on further thought, the invisibility angle might reduce the appeal for the likely audience.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:31 AM
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@85 You just look for their mitres; it's the ones who only wear dog collars that are the real danger. Especially when they are coming at you head on. So easy to mistake one then for a Dyson office fan, and by the time you realise your mistake it's .... too late.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:39 AM
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Lesbian Daleks

A suppressed film depicting the secret history of lesbian-Dalek encounters


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:41 AM
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85: it's partly filmed using thermal imaging cameras.

Also, 86 is inspired.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:41 AM
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87.2: "The reason the Daleks are still the most sinister thing in the universe is because they do not make things like porn."

I just felt that quote deserved repeating.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:43 AM
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Buck used to get so annoyed writing for El Reg. He's trying to do sober analysis of speeds and prices, and the stories that get all the hits are porn and pictures of excitingly dusty computers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:51 AM
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Plus, they were mean to me. Screw those guys!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:53 AM
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87.2 -- the trundling salt cellars' intergalactic rumpy-pumpy

There will always be an England.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:54 AM
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I'm going to be cranky and request that we stop this habit of referring to previous comments with the "@". It seems to be spreading, and it's visually messy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 7:59 AM
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Brad DeLong started it, heebie. Go get him!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 8:00 AM
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#93: You're right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 8:01 AM
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Oh, I've taken care of Brad. Don't you worry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 8:04 AM
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In response to comment ninety-six in this comment thread, authored by heebie-geebie and posted at four minutes past eight in the morning (Mountain Standard Time): wuh oh!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 8:07 AM
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On the topic of hiring, the only full-time employee who works under my supervision has just given notice. The other one left a few months ago. It's possible that it sucks to work with me, but I blame society the fact that none of us have gotten any raises for years.

Anyway, if we're allowed to hire somebody new, I'll make sure it's somebody who has never worked for the Vienna Philharmonic.


Posted by: Gerald Ford | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 9:03 AM
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I will talk about lesbians, I think, and their curious invisibility in this context.

Worth linking in this thread: "The Ping Pong Theory of Tech World Sexism"


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 9:04 AM
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re: Googleproofing, the company referred to in 26 is not Google. Despite the occasional report that Google+ is still being sighted in the field, Google is not a social media company.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 9:11 AM
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Symphonies blind what is intended to be the least arbitrary portion of the interview process, which is having experts judge the music. The intent has always been for that to be an entirely impartial judgement of musicianship. Obviously, there is a substantial subjective component in making such a determination, but it is based on deep subject matter expertise. Making it blind is clearly a step towards a substantially less arbitrary outcome while still trusting expert judgement.

Likewise, tech companies could blind the portion of an interview going over coding, design, etc. It would also be useful if candidates for the same position were asked about the same material. I've been in a wrap-up where the male candidates had gotten asked questions about their capabilities and the one women candidate actually got quizzed. In my wife's case one interviewer ended up just straight-up lying about the questions he asked and her answers. All of that silliness can be taken out of the process.

Making gender invisible to the technical portion of the interview process leaves all the soft stuff around personal interaction, team fit, judgement, etc. as part of an in-person interview process. I think this would give a lot less room to screw around and come up with excuses to take a pass on women candidates. I also suspect a lot more women would end up as finalists in the first place. Of course, treatment of women has bad so horrible in tech that almost no women are in computer science or EE programs now.

DN


Posted by: Don N. | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 1:11 PM
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Possibly relevant anecdote, reported by a friend from a women-in-security meetup;

A. "I prove we're doing sloppy work, no-one listens, we get hacked, a week later it's back to ignoring me. It's like no matter how good the security argument is, how much the business is at risk, nothing happens. I'm getting burned out. How do you deal with it?"

B (sitting adjacent): "Well, I came into the field from atmospheric climate studies, so..."

(All laugh sadly.)

C (next around the circle): "And I'm an oceanographer on the side."

(All weep.)

----

There's a comic somewhere of a Hip Techie and a Boring Techie asking each other, "When are you going to work on something cool?" "When are you going to work on something important?"

How could anyone want to work only on the cool but not important? IMO women drift, shunt, or are filtered into `important' partly because the douchebag effect is so much stronger in the `cool'. Important then gets ignored and underpaid, not just because it's women but because it's in general low on mutally aggrandizing douchebags. Seriously, I find tech has gotten *worse* for women and for people from the lower middle class & down in the last 20 years; silly money poisoned it.

(UC Berkeley has several really good female climate scientists who were hired when, in the ?1970s?, someone at UCB thought Hey! Generalized sexism means female scientists are underpriced! Let's look for them! Some of them are on the IPCC committee, therefore sort of fractional Nobel winners; they ought to get dedicated bicycle parking spots, as the fabled reward for a Nobel proper is a dedicated car-parking spot.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 1:32 PM
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Clew @ 102: that conversation is literally what all engineers (and tradesmen, and all kinds of other people) say to each other. "Why won't they let us do the job properly?"

Infosec is a case in point because it doesn't have an immediate payoff, but if you read NANOG, wow, just look at the IPv6 deniers (and even the odd BGP denier). But that's precisely like "Why won't management let us refactor all that horrible cruft from 2005?" or "When are we finally going get the money to underpin Dyke 201Z?"


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 3:22 PM
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... Kind of missing the point there, Alex, though certainly not actually wrong.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 3:26 PM
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Important then gets ignored and underpaid, not just because it's women but because it's in general low on mutally aggrandizing douchebags. Seriously, I find tech has gotten *worse* for women and for people from the lower middle class & down in the last 20 years; silly money poisoned it.

What do you think of 49? It starts out with the guy pointing out that he would never have gotten into the industry now for socioeconomic reasons.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 3:36 PM
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Went back and read 49; vivid writer.

In its good years the 'soft did fairly well at hiring people with a lot of class backgrounds, because (a) desperate to hire, (b) willing to advance from within, (c) early employees were from some seemingly odd fields. And then we started getting a whole crop of people who had designed their college careers (!) to be the perfect tech hire and make a lot of money, and they were much more boring to work with. Which doesn't mean they were worse for the company, although there has perhaps been an insuperable increase in group-think there.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 4:50 PM
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... He doesn't talk about class issues very directly, that I've found, but I really like this:

My two lucky breaks were just that: transitional moments when semi-skilled labor rubbed up against new technology. But I wonder if it's possible to create that kind of apprenticeship on purpose. In my work there's nothing to *see* anymore. There's nothing that needs an apprentice to help with. My pipe-dream is to one day create a business that can legitimately soak up large amounts of young dumb kids and teach them something useful.

Don't know what the apprenticeship could be. YouTube careers? Trashpicking? Environmental monitoring for bounty money?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 5:07 PM
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The link in 49 really is excellent, especially the second half.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-21-14 6:14 PM
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49 link is great.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-22-14 7:02 AM
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The "startup" world just sounds like a totally artificial environment. It seems like a lot of startups depend on creating artificial economic worlds, too, where they can get great market share by not caring about whether customers pay them anything, because they have VC investors instead. And they frantically try to figure out how to pivot from that world to a world of profitability.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-14 7:05 AM
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And they frantically try to figure out how to pivot from that world to a world of profitability.

The weird part is that it works occasionally.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-14 7:09 AM
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because it's in general low on mutally aggrandizing douchebags. Seriously, I find tech has gotten *worse* for women and for people from the lower middle class & down in the last 20 years; silly money poisoned it.

It seems like the dotcom boom had the effect of seriously bro-ifying the tech industry. That might explain why the number of women getting CS degrees peaked in about 2002-2003 and then went into sharp decline. A roughly 4 year lag from the late 90s when the culture started getting markedly worse.*

*All based on second hand observation. I've never worked at a tech company.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-22-14 7:21 AM
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For what it's worth, the source of the quote was published in 1996, nearl 18 years ago.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 07-22-14 7:25 AM
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113: Apparently tech has always already been bro-ified.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-22-14 7:27 AM
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The bros work for the tsar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-14 7:30 AM
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Source of what quote?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-22-14 7:35 AM
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