Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Dropbox" ... Is Apparently A Pun

Though the more subjective points here are a bit glib (girlie-types are a-skeered of Trek posters and superheroes), the realities are deeply true and deeply disturbing.  Dropbox (pun apparently very much intended by the male hiring staff, even if they don’t realize it) comes in with an engineering staff consisting of barely over six percent women, and in the past twenty-nine years, computer science graduate statistics have gone from thirty-five percent women down to eighteen.  You might have thought a career opportunity so new then, which has come into such a dizzying maturity, might ATTRACT women – yet the men who form its core evidently have gone the Alfalfa route and systematically turned this vital industry into a very literal boys’ club.

Please click through on this – to understand how scary and alienating it is that the world contains a PROFESSIONAL SPACE named the “bromance chamber” ...

It’s one of those things which, being as old as I am, leads me to a geriatric prone-ness to judge that we have moved backward.  While I’m aware I have my long-held and some long-developing prejudices, this really does seem to me to be objectively true in too many ways to ignore or be comfortable with.  Yes, I am a woman able to live on my own and on my terms, which historically has not been an available choice for my gender without exceptional circumstances – yet I am also the product of a culture dominated by corporate over human interests, in which a certain mega-beauty brand (DOVE) pretends to glorify “real” women even as it spends billions creating the neurosis that our armpits need to be prettier.

It doesn’t make me Henny Penny, either, to look at plain stats – and to realize how apart-from-average I am – to see that the odds are stacked against my entire gender, if they don’t have the strength to be apart-from-average, or if they just want to make a living and not have to jump through ridiculous hypothetical nerd scenarios in order to do so.  I find it so sad and also outrageous that we’ve come to a place where, basically, *anyone* really wanting to make a living feeds themselves at a young age into a massive machine and just manages along.  It’s not just the economy, either – it’s the fact that so many of us are limited by circumstances and resources into “taking what we can” for a living, rather than having the luxury to make a living by work that actually inspires us.

If I had gone into computer science in 1985 … there is little doubt I would not have left it by 1993.  I am not a crusader now, even having realized at something like age 45 that I have a voice at all – but when I was twenty-five or so, I would have quit on a dime.  “It’s hard” would have stopped me in my tracks, not whetted me to push all the harder and change the way things were.

That may make a wuss of me, but the world isn’t necessarily populated by those willing to fight just to pay their mortgages, and that’s not a moral shortcoming, when we’ve had recession after crisis, and more people are likely focused on their relationships than on their offices.  Goodness, and I hope they ARE more focused on their lives than the means to pay for them, honestly.

And yet, and yet.  The lack of energy to fight for our rights, or even just for professional visibility, equity, agency … so far, it seems to be leaving us with this.  With men holding ninety-four percent of the cards at Dropbox.  With “successful” (which is to say – backed by enough money and resources to make a wide impact) innovation coming only out of the minds of a fairly narrow and particular portion of the world’s population.  With that segment of the world guiding technology and methodology which reaches more and more OF the world every single hour.

What super power would I give my best friend?  The ability to cut through the BS.  And I’d give it to all of them.  Women, minorities, those with their heads tucked down just getting by.  All of them.

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