Sexism and competition

The ruby community is quite blessed in the way that there are very vocal activist promoting diversity, especially on gender parity. It’s not exclusive to ruby I noticed the same intention in other communities (like the pyladies in python).

Anybody that spent some years in IT cannot avoid to notice that there are mostly guys. The ladies are either frowned upon or very special cases. For ages I have been wondering why. My sister is a sysadmin at a university, there is nothing shocking about that and she does a damn good job.

So I paid attention on what are the people responsible for that. I identified various categories of people that I consider are responsible of our lack of parity. Well, not them directly but the behaviors they perpetuate are certainly part of the problem. If we could find a way to correct those behaviors, it would lead to a natural change in the group.

In all those people I know, and in all their behaviors, I think I detected something that is related to the Religion Of Competitiveness. Those people are believers that knowledge is power and they are not gonna share it more than necessary. They will find anything to avoid more people reach their level of knowledge. And if they can find some kind of reason to discard other people, either trivial and socially acceptable in the given group reason to discard other people, they will do. Gender is the first victim in such a schema. What is socially acceptable is a self-perpetuated meme.

Talking to those people is pointless, they are in denial. They see nothing wrong. You can’t change them. You have to change their environment, that will be the only way.

So it means that in a competition context, there are still ways to win, by playing the competition game and winning it. But to break the competition paradigm, there is a lot to do. Companies policies are not enough to enforce a more open mindset. But I believe that there is ways to organize the information in a way that keeping it for oneself devaluates it. And from the eradication of the tyranny of knowledge, we shall reach a less competition-based culture in IT. And all discrimination pretexts may vanish by themselves.

Rather than fighting for diversity, we should fight against the spirit of competition. It’s kind of not easy, I reckon, because our society tends to push people to be competitive. That’s what capitalism is all about. But IT population already has proven that the established system don’t take hold on them. Geeks and techies are educated people (often self-educated, but it’s the same) and they can think on their own, chose the path to follow. If you can find a way, in your context, to change the environment towards less power for the competitive type of people, that could deserve a try.

Well, that’s just a rant, a wild thought. Such a topic would deserve more space for development. But that’s what I wanted to share this week. Anyways I doubt there is that much people reading those line hahaha.

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