Finding talent in tech

My column this month in The Register looks at “the skills gap” most hiring managers see when it comes to tech skill. The suggestions for fixing it are, of course, to fix the framing, expectations, and profile of people you’re looking for. As Andrew Clay Shafer put it: there is no talent shortage.

Source: “You can’t find tech staff – wah, wah, wah. Start with your ridiculous job spec”

The Bathroom Bill, Texas SB6 – Notebook

As you can imagine, things like the so-called “bathroom bill” drive me crazy. It also makes me sad for whatever happened to my fellow Texans, who support it, that they’d be this cruel, uninformed, and ignorant. And, of course, there’s the people effected.

Stealing some of Matt Ray’s notes for our Software Defined Talk recording, here’s a notebook and highlights on the topic.

  • The Hillbillies are obsessed with bathrooms
    • It’s really depressing how aggressively stupid Texas is sometimes. I don’t blame anyone avoiding it.
    • “The consequences of this bill are beyond severe. Not only can transgender people be arrested and jailed for using the bathroom, but they will be assumed to be pedophiles, and be put on the Texas sexual predator watch list. So not only is there the possibility of being hauled off to jail during a conference, the arrest will ruin the rest of your life. Just because you need to pass some water.”
  • Current status: The bill is having trouble in the Senate, however, part of it is about removing a requirement to provide multi-user bathrooms in schools.
    • More: “The differences on the bathroom bill are substantial. The Senate would require transgender Texans to use the restrooms in publicly owned buildings that match their biological sex and would bar local governments from adopting or maintaining their own laws on the subject. The House version would apply only to elementary and secondary schools; after it passed last weekend, Patrick and others criticized it as a change that does very little.”

How’d it go in North Carolina?

  • AP analysis of economic effect in North Carolina, from March 2017:
    Losses of $313m a year – “$3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years.”
    Some examples, not just bleeding-heart tech companies: “Those include PayPal canceling a 400-job project in Charlotte, CoStar backing out of negotiations to bring 700-plus jobs to the same area, and Deutsche Bank scuttling a plan for 250 jobs in the Raleigh area. Other companies that backed out include Adidas, which is building its first U.S. sports shoe factory employing 160 near Atlanta rather than a High Point site, and Voxpro, which opted to hire hundreds of customer support workers in Athens, Georgia, rather than the Raleigh area.”
    Most of it is from businesses like Paypal and Deutsche Bank pulling out – good for them!

    • “Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan — who leads the largest company based in North Carolina — said he’s spoken privately to business leaders who went elsewhere with projects or events because of the controversy, and he fears more decisions like that are being made quietly.”
  • For context, The North Carolina economy: “In 2010 North Carolina’s total gross state product was $424.9 billion. In 2011 the civilian labor force was at around 4.5 million with employment near 4.1 million. The working population is employed across the major employment sectors.”
  • So, rough estimate of economic impact is: a decrease of 0.07%/year (this is a bad number since it’s based on 2010 GDP and other forward looking estimates, however, it gives you a ball-park sense.) However, see scenario for larger impact for the future below (I mean, not to mention being a dick-heads and treating people as subhuman for no good reason other than being fucking social-idiots):

Money and jobs prospects for Texas

  • Back to Texas, the next 10 years are critical for North Texas. Many large, international enterprises are setting up big campuses up there in DFW.
    For example, Toyota relocated their NA headquarters there.

    • For Toyota, this means something on the order of 1,000 new jobs in Texas, with an estimated 2,800 existing employees who’ll move to Texas. That’s a lot of new HEB customers, home buyers, and taxpayers.
  • Now, think of other G2000 companies that would want to move to Texas, or beef up their existing presence. The companies will be deciding what to do in the next 2-3 years, and if they skip on Texas, that will be decades of lost cash, not to mention new Texans.
  • Also, from Texas Association of Business: “The business group released a study last month warning that legislation like the transgender bathroom bill could cost the state economy up to $8.5 billion a year and threaten 185,000 jobs.” (Meanwhile, that organization has “remained neutral.”)

Why in the first place?

  • So, what’s the big deal for those in favor of it in the first place? Well, obviously, the idea that there’s “wide-stances” going on is bunk (more).
  • One can only conclude that supporters are confused (and, thus, afraid): there’s a fundamental disagreement about gender and sexuality. But, also, there’s just downright discriminatory. We’ve lived through this before with the gay marriage movement int he past 20 years and know how to spot veiled discrimination.
  • As one ACLU person put it: “that fundamentally [supporters of bathroom bills] just don’t think of transgender people as humans, and they try to erase trans people from existence.””
  • The Economist describes the people effected: ‘The heart of the bill is its concept of “biological sex”; lawmakers define it as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate”. This definition is fraught for several reasons. First, as many as 1 in 1,500 babies are born with ambiguous genitalia that qualify them as “intersex”, though that designation was only used for the first time last week, when a Brooklyn-born, 55-year-old California resident received a revised birth certificate from New York City in the mail. Second, thousands of the 1.4m transgender Americans have had sex-reassignment surgery, which means that many people who were designated as male or female at birth now have “the physical condition” of being another gender. And for transgender people who retain the biological markers of their original gender identification (because they choose not to undergo surgery or cannot afford it), the fact of their sense of themselves remains. Many transgender women and men feel not only uncomfortable but endangered when being forced to use a bathroom that does not mesh with their identity. In a 2013 paper, Jody Herman, a scholar at the UCLA law school’s Williams Institute, discussed a survey finding that 70% of transgender people “reported being denied access, verbally harassed, or physically assaulted in public restrooms”.’ (More from CNN.)
  • Is there anything to actually worry about? The article continues: “No similar research bears out the theory that opening bathrooms to transgender people spurs sexual predators to put on lipstick and a dress to target women and young girls in public facilities. Last year, a coalition of organisations dedicated to preventing the abuse of women issued a letter addressing Mr Patrick’s worry. “As rape crisis centers, shelters, and other service providers who work each and every day to meet the needs of all survivors and reduce sexual assault and domestic violence throughout society”, they wrote, “we speak from experience and expertise when we state that these claims are false”. Texas Republicans say that strict gender segregation in public bathrooms is “common sense”, but their appeal to conventional wisdom is not borne out by the evidence. A police department official in Des Moines, Iowa, said he doubts that bathroom tolerance for trans people would “encourage” illicit behaviour. Sex offenders, he said, will find victims “no matter what the laws are”.”
  • Meanwhile, bathroom bill thinking shows a misunderstanding of the realities of sexual assault: ‘[Laura Palumbo, communications director at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center] said she believes people “must understand the facts about sexual assault,” adding that in 8 out of 10 cases the victim already knows the person who sexually assaulted them, citing Justice Department statistics. However, 64 percent of transgender people will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, she said, citing a study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality.’
  • All of this said, other than “there is no evidence,” it’s surprisingly hard to find any numbers and reports on the topic of “is this actually a problem,” based on past crime and incidents. This is true for both sides of the issues!
  • That said, the conclusion would, thus, be that there’s no evidence based on historics that there’s anything close to a material, actual problem (sexual assault) going on here. This is not only intellectually (and socially) frustrating, but it also means that all the effort spent on bathroom bills is wasted and should have been spent on fixing real problems that could prevent actual sexual assault.

White men to women and minorities in tech: We just DGAF

Less than 5% of white men surveyed said they considered a lack of diversity a top problem. Three-out-of-four respondents were unaware of any initiatives to make their companies or portfolios more diverse. And 40% of male respondents were sick of the media going on and on about it.

Meanwhile, in political land:

the more privileged you are, the less that oppression personally affects you, the less urgency you perhaps have to get involved in the fight.

And:

According to Shireen Mitchell, activist and founder of Digitalsista, much of the reason women of color are so often on the front lines is because it’s work that needs to be done, and they don’t see anyone else stepping up. “Women of color are always taught to build community to get things done, and in my opinion, most white men are taught that they can only succeed if they are the ‘savior’ for the community. With this mindset, they know they can’t really do that job when it comes to inclusivity because of their inherent bias.”

As those stats on hiring above show, there’s plenty of room for white men to try new ideas out, e.g.:

That leads to white people, especially white men, waiting to act until they feel they will be acknowledged and congratulated for their work. “What we need is for them to take initiative, grow from being uncomfortable and making mistakes. Use their privilege to elevate those who are taking the lead and not add to taxing or using their labor,” says Mitchell.

Link

The truth about the gender wage gap

Goldin’s research has found that workers in the industries with large wage gaps are more likely to say their jobs value those who “develop constructive and cooperative working relationships” and that their company generally determines their “tasks, priorities, and goals.”

And in these situations, both working a lot and having the flexibility to be away from children “after hours” pays off. So, because women are the primary care givers, they take a big wage cut because they have schedule demanding jobs. This doesn’t remove all the of the wage gap as the women-with-no-kids and pharmacists examples show, but it removes a large chunk.

There also a devilish economic decisions that, among many other things, enforces the choice for women to be the primary care givers. If men already make more money, their wages have further to fall, so, mean more top-line revenue loss:

She found that men see their salaries decrease more than women when they switch to a part-time schedule for a year.

“It seems that men in the legal profession who take on non-traditional gender roles (i.e., taking responsibility for child care) pay a high price for that behavior,” Noonan and her study co-authors write.

If the workplace penalizes men more than women for taking breaks from work, then it could be the wiser financial decision for a mother to take on more caregiving activities. — the decision that society overwhelmingly expects.

This is all a shitty situation for family.

Source: The truth about the gender wage gap

“Not relevant”

Mr. Feig, like Ivan Reitman before him, has assembled a workmanlike action-comedy about people at work. Professionalism may be the opposite of gonzo, but I think there’s something (dare I say it) radical about how job-focused this story is. Here’s a movie about female friendship and collegiality — which, of course, also entails rivalry, miscommunication and shifting allegiances — that feels no need to entangle any of its heroines in a heterosexual romance plot. Ms. Wiig’s character is distracted by the hotness of her secretary (I was reminded of Zero Mostel in the original “Producers”), but the real emotional stakes are between her and Ms. McCarthy. We don’t know if any of the Ghostbusters are gay, bi, straight, married, single, celibate, polyamorous or whatever. It’s not relevant.

Meanwhile:

To cite (again) just one bummer study: From 2007 to 2014, women made up 30.2 percent of all speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing fictional films released in the United States.

Source: “So That’s Who You Call: The Politics of the New ‘Ghostbusters’”

What My Uterus Can Teach You About Being a Tech Leader

“You know, I’d love to get coffee afterwards with anyone — man or woman — who wants to talk about raising kids while working full time, but right now I think the audience really wants to hear about how I’m leading a revolution in robotics.”

What My Uterus Can Teach You About Being a Tech Leader

Stefanovic, who co-presents Channel Nine’s Today show with Lisa Wilkinson, has been wearing the same blue suit – day in, day out, except for a few trips to the dry cleaner – to make a point about the ways in which his female colleagues are judged. “No one has noticed,” he said. “No one gives a shit.”