Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Meritocracy of Twitter And The Top Layer of White Boyz

Via Amanda, I read this statement about the leadership of Twitter consisting mostly of white guys.  The lack of women has been a Twitter topic for some days, especially because women use Twitter a lot (not me).

As Amanda points out, the piece is a good example of How It Is Done in Anti-Feminism. 

My short summary of it: 
Life is fair but hard for all.  It's harder for women than men, of course,  and of course there are sexists and bigots everywhere, but life is still fair and competition in tech is totally fair and the women who are willing to pay the price men pay get there.  

Of course they have to ignore the sexism and the racism and so on and the fact that their pregnancies are a problem they have to take care of while working harder than everyone else.  But life is fair and the winners got there fairly, just like all other winners.  

That feminists dare to complain about the lack of women in Twitter's leadership just shows that they want something for nothing and really aren't good enough.  All one needs to do is work harder than anyone else, bulldoze through sexism and the assumption that every worker has a spouse at home taking care of children and giving birth to them.

The world of Twitter is a meritocracy and if the top is mostly white men, well, that shows that white men are more talented, work harder and deserve to be on top.
So stop your whining and actually do some work, feminazis.

Another way of looking at the very gist of the piece is that it is based on the assumption of general meritocracy and an accepted view of biological gender differences as something which can safely cost  in money, ambitions and emotional costs mostly to women. 

From these two assumptions it naturally follows that the status quo is the best possible of all status quos, that the women not on top are not as talented and hard-working as the men on top, and that the answer is to strap your baby on your back and your breast pump in your handbag, put on your stilettos and work harder and longer than all the white boyz while regarding any sexism or racism or both you meet en route as just so many gnats to ignore.

If I want a kinder reading of the piece it would be this one:  The author doesn't think she has faced any hindrances due to her gender and believes that she got where she is by her talents and hard work.  She was able to accept the rules of the game and won, and that's pretty rare for a woman!  So she is quite special, too.  And I have no doubts that she is good at her work and that she has the characteristics which let her succeed and that she has worked hard.

But none of that makes the wider questions about where all the women are irrelevant, and it's hard to see how one can make a polite nod to the sexism which enters the room but then pretend that it is powerless in affecting how high a woman climbs.  It also doesn't follow that those feminists who have questioned Twitter's lack of diversity (a word I dislike, as you know, preferring real fairness) are people who want something for nothing or that they wish to have empty tokens of womanhood on those boards. 

And yes, women are not fifty percent of all workers in high tech fields, so it would be unrealistic to expect them to be fifty percent of the top layers.  But surely some percentage higher than negligible would better reflect true talents?