Men In Computing

Announcing: The Men in Computing Conference!

In the past there have been many conferences discussing the issues surrounding women or ethnic minorities in computing. But one horribly under-represented minority has been crazily left out — men! Men are now the neglected minority, and risk being left behind, downtrodden and ignored — especially in computing, where their status is especially vulnerable. To this end, we’re organising the inaugural men in computing conference (MCC), where men can come together and discuss men’s issues, and stop being ashamed of being men.

There has been a recent movement to try to ensure diversity in the composition of speakers at conferences. We at the MCC firmly reject this tokenistic nonsense, which is clearly promoting poor speakers (if they were that good, they’d already be speaking — right?) and is now severely limiting the opportunity for men to speak at conferences. We will choose our speakers purely on merit: only the best talks, regardless of gender. Just apply here, with your name and photo attached.

Women will not be absent from the conference: we will ensure that there is at least one woman in the audience at the MCC, so that we can all point afterwards and say “see, women weren’t excluded”. We will also make sure the woman will agree that all this pro-women stuff is a load of nonsense, so you can also say afterwards “well, there was a woman at the conference who disagreed with what you’re saying, so there!”.

We’ll also hold a session on statistics. Learn the binomial significance test — we’ll explain how, if we assume a 95%-male field, you can have conferences with up to 58.4 men and no women without producing a statistically significant oddity. Don’t forget: no-one can argue with statistics, because statistics are plain objective TRUTH.

We hope you can all attend! Of course, everyone is welcome at the conference, not just men. We are sure it will be a pleasant and welcoming experience for women, too, on the basis that we’re not doing anything too horrifically overt to make it male-only. And don’t forget — next spring, we’ll be following up with a whites in computing conference along the same lines!

This advert was inspired by the comments on this thread. Just to be clear: I’m not attacking women-in-computing conferences here, it’s nothing to do with having conferences for actual minorities.

Rather, I’m bored of all the comments such as “I’m a white male. I suppose it’s wrong for me to speak at any conference from this point on?” or “Our society is getting to a point where being a majority is actually frowned upon” (as if somehow white males are now suppressed or disadvantaged in computing), or the arguments such as “In other words, it’s still reasonable to dismiss the all white and male lineup as a statistical fluke and not the result of bias”, or that lack of diversity is fine “BECAUSE MATH”.

Diversity is tricky — nobody has the perfect answer, or even knows what’s achievable — but there’s far too much defensiveness and negativity when people try to move things forward. Every individual defensive commenter seems convinced that they are not part of the problem, that they are just offering a reasoned critique. En masse, they form a stubborn and irritating roadblock. Here’s my tongue-in-cheek analogy for you: white males are like Bill Gates — they rose up in computing through a mixture of hard work, fortune, skill, and some measure of shutting out their competition, but now it’s time to move to the philanthropic stage and look to support others, even if it were to cost them.

So here’s my two unsolicited tips. One: next time you respond to a post about sexism or diversity, divorce the argument from yourself and your circumstance. Think: am I being unnecessarily defensive — am I defending myself against a threat that doesn’t actually exist, or isn’t related to me, and am I killing off discussion on this issue? Two: try imagining that giving opportunity to one person does not remove it from another. Because I think it’s true — we can all work together to increase diversity in computing without kicking out all the white males. It’s a growth area; there should be room for everyone.

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