Monday, August 28, 2017

More Responses to an Open Letter to James Damore

As part of the Damore-related article I responded and posted about , I later wrote responses to other posters in response to a NY Times article An Open Letter to James Damore by Debra Sterling. Additional responses are below:

To someone criticizing, rightly, Damore's gender views...
In Hofstede's cultural dimension models, the drive for status is part of the masculinity dimension, and it varies a great deal, with the Scandinavian societies on the low end, having equivalent gender expectations, as opposed to the more traditional societies like the US. Although one might find that such traits are heritable, it is obvious that culture has a large influence on social norms.

Equally important, Damore does not realize that the men entering the profession have turned the industry toxic, e.g., high pressure, not that the industry was toxic and therefore drove women away, or that what he assumes is the profession is simply emblematic of life in corporate America. Several years ago tech was touted as an industry with high compensation and low stress. Along these lines, I have seen studies that showed causality in compensation, that when men enter the field pay rises. it was not that the profession paid well and then men entered it.
To someone that described programming as only requiring technical abilities...
Have you ever developed software? I do and have and my sense is that developing solutions requires technical creativity, insights into human behavior, understandings of the problem domain and innovation. Only yesterday, when I responded to one of our quant interns about work she obviously found exciting, saying that it seemed mentally engaging, she responded, that it was more like creative than intellectual.

Like almost any endeavor, the task is what you bring to it, and if you bring genius, your work is genius. If you are intellectually lackluster just following orders, then not much ability is required.
I was offended by your statement for two reasons, and have already responded to your perception that programming was only technical. I'm also offended by your idea that there is no science to programming, although when I say programming, I am writing about the larger field of software architecture and development.

Since when did "expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences" become synonymous with genius? When one thinks of the real genius of thought today - granted this is my biased opinion - most innovations seem to be coming from the computer science world, revolutionizing analysis in the humanities, economics and social sciences, and if not now, the hard sciences.
To someone assuming that irritating product, in particular, Apple's, were the result of
Actually, it is not tech-nerdism that is driving those decisions, it is Apple driving users toward a revenue stream, storing information and then music on the cloud. It is a form of lock-in, making sure you make future purchases from them.
To someone disagreeing with a poster that assumed the driver for a computer science career was about money...
Although I disagree with many of your posts in this forum, I really have to agree with you on this one. Although I often work as a project manager, and when I code use modern languages and paradigms, I could easily tell stories about my first time working with BASIC (1982), the sheer joy of getting good results out of COBOL (1984), literally spending entire days over a week to put together a new website (2000). Afterward, although I was being hired as a PM and lead, I decided to focus on software development, where I could be paid to do what I loved. Even then, there is the intellectual engagement I have in designing solutions and solving problems. As an example, I have blog setup to explore data analytics using F#, R, and Python. It's a pleasure, although my initial driver was to share the work with others, it now includes a certain amount of self-promotion for the next phase of my career.

A Journey — if You Dare — Into the Minds of Silicon Valley Programmers

My responses in a NY Times comment section for the book, Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson ...