Ceci n'est pas une pipeline problem
This post was originally a tweetstorm! You can find the original tweetstorm right here.
Okay let’s dig into this, which is a blog post where he’s talking about the fallout around the recent, ragingly sexist 31c0n (which I’m not linking to from here).
Remember, this is the con that thought it was OK to tweet (from the official account) glorifying “getting wasted”.
So, to start with we have pretty classic tone policing, while grudgingly admitting that we have a point that, yes, it was sexist.
There were no women speakers because the organisers didn’t ask any women, because they didn’t care enough to find any. Getting women requires reaching outside our networks, out of our comfort zones. It requires doing more.
Second, the ticket prices (NZD$750+GST!) is quite an exclusionary measure.
Women are, in general, less likely to get time off or the financial support from their employer to go to conferences, compared to men.
Next, the “They’re my mates, of course they’re not sexist!” argument. This is a subset of the “he’d never do that!” fallacy. Deliberate sexism isn’t just “I hate women”, but is also actions where our skills are ignored, where reaching further to find us is disregarded as unimportant or unnecessary.
It’s also part of the false meritocracy, where “best speaker” is only “has knowledge like I have”, a background like the selection committee and behaviour like theirs, time to explore like they had.
Time that women are less likely to have.
So they’re his mates, but they performed that sexism, and deliberate? They chose not to look beyond themselves, their shallow and mediocre networks. They CHOSE.
They chose not to look further or try harder.
Next up, he admits that he wasn’t able to place more women in technical roles, but he doesn’t talk about how women are less likely to apply, or about how they’re far less likely to pass the sexist “best candidate” filters of the false meritocracy, or less likely to apply, when studies continue to show that women are punished for reaching beyond what they can prove, and men are rewarded for their “potential.”
Finally, we get to the shallow analysis that all people confronted with their industry sexism for the first time reach to: the pipeline.
“BUT THE PIPELINE” has been so thoroughly debunked at this stage that it’s ridiculous it keeps coming up. Yes, the pipeline is important, but “pipeline” arguments perform ignorance that the culture they lead to is horrifying and unwelcoming. It’s sexist, it’s othering, and it doesn’t care.
It shows us a culture in which we’re not welcome by throwing conferences after Kiwicon’s amazing work that barely have women attend, let alone speak.
It’s a culture that shows us we’re not welcome through recruiters who think it’s our fault for not applying, for not being more visible, for not being more like the men we’re compared to.
A culture ignores that women and minorities face a terrible rate of attrition because of this culture, that every day we’re told we’re not good enough.
A culture where we’re not welcome, because we weren’t better role models, helping fill the pipeline more.
It’s not the pipeline. It’s never the pipeline. It’s the culture at the end of the pipeline, the culture that generates articles like this. A culture where his mates aren’t to blame for their sexism, a culture where not having any women is acceptable.
It’s a culture where even brilliant, shining examples like Kiwicon, who learned and tried and did it better, are wilfully ignored.
It’s a culture where I am less welcome.