Do you have bias against female engineers?Dec 14, 2018
I just got a job offer at my top choice company. I thought my interview loop was extremely easy and I’m honestly surprised I got the job. I can’t help but think the hiring manager lowered the bar to hire me because I’m a woman.
I felt like this when I got my current job, too, and personally saw another female engineer get hired because my manager at the time wanted another female on the team even though I didn’t think she was that great of a candidate. It made me self-conscious to wonder if that’s how I got hired, too.
I’m not saying this happens every time because I’ve been interviewing for 4 months and have been rejected a bunch after phone screens and this is my first offer. Regardless, there’s always this fear that when I succeed it’s due to people being lenient because I’m female. I don’t want that kind of special treatment and want to be judged by my skills.
I most definitely do not want my coworkers to think that about me and it gives me imposter syndrome and anxiety to think that could be true.
I guess my question is, do you have an inherit bias towards female engineers and assume she doesn’t know her shit or you do the opposite and go easy on her because she’s female? Both types of thinking is sexist in my opinion and it’s really awkward to deal with (especially when people act “impressed” by my achievements as if I shouldn’t have them compared to any other ‘dude’).
I really just want to know what people (both men and women) think. I won’t judge if you admit to being biased (intentionally or unintentionally).
- Facebook / EngBookEngI am a female engineer too. Do not think so much. Get the best u can and believe in yourself. I have worked my ass off to get where I am. I dint see any biases. I failed Facebook and Google interview first time I gave a try. I realized I was under prepared. I had to to prepare much more to pass them.
- New babaramdvWomen are the new quota candidates. My VP is always lamenting about not hiring enough female engineers. HR keeps on pestering about meeting some number that they have set to hire female engineers.
But its a great time to be a female engineer. Reap all you can!
Edit: I was at this years KubeCon (still in hotel unable to sleep) in Seattle, and I have never seen so many female engineers as I have in this event.
But this is a good development, I support hiring more females to coding, devops, support, etc. They do bring different perspectives to problem solving.
- Also, you worrying about whether or not you were hired just because you're female. Do you think a man wonders if he's hired just because he's a man vs because of his skills? Hell to the no. And there is a chance that he didn't get hired because of skill. There's a chance he likely got a job because interviewers can have strong preferential bias towards males because that's what they're more comfortable around, etc.
- Also, not true. Men need just as much validation but they're not as vocal about it and when it comes down to comparing their skill set with others they're less likely to be worried about a female counterpart (unless she's in the top 1-3% performers across both genders). But I assure you, men suffer just as much from worry. The way that manifests is different from the way it manifests in women. And to clarify when I speak about men worrying I mean in regards to their own personal skills, not in regards to whether or not they were hired for skill vs for gender.
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- The way I see it the problem is that a man who may have come from a difficult socio-economic background and made it all the way through sheer hard work and determination is at risk of being rejected in an interview in favor of a woman (or any other group of choice) who may have had an eminently privileged life, given all else being equal. Or for that matter, even if the man is better by some margin (in the context of the interview). That is bias and discrimination, plain and simple. Except that the discrimination is in favor of a politically/ideologically favored group. So everyone will pretend that it is all good and they are playing a key role for the betterment of human society.
At the end of the day, there are good and bad engineers, men and women. OPs self-analysis is admirable. But what can/will you do? Will you decline the offer, or resign from your job? Of course not. Human beings are wired to do what works for our benefit, however it comes (mostly). It is evolutionary. So, enjoy what you get however it comes. And, if you think you can do better as an engineer, work on it.
- OP, to add to my original post, there is actually something you can definitely do. In your career, if you end up mentoring and/or interviewing candidates, you can try to base your decisions on ability and not on how a person looks, be it gender, skin color, or anything else.
The current policy in place was put in place to help women and minorities (issue number 1) but in doing so it doesn't take into account that some of those people that fall into those groups *are* more privileged in terms of money and upbringing (not necessarily more privileged socially, racism or sexism still impacts the wealthy) than some white males that grew up with a socio-economic disadvantage (issue number 2).
I agree that the policy fails on that account and in fact creates a larger resentment and gap among races and genders rather than addressing one of the root problems that afflicts people across genders and races (in this case growing up in a crappy area with crappy schools but still rising above).
- @(LogMeIn hdi6jwk8)
The way to help those who need a helping hand is the take into account what is quantifiable - economic background. Perhaps family income could be a measure.
Most of the favored group folks I have come across in the industry are actually from a privileged background. So the system for the most part ends up working in favor of those who already are in a position of advantage.
I think in general policy needs to be geared towards grassroots. I feel there are certain ethnic/racial groups who for historical and/or cultural reasons certainly need a helping hand. But that helping hand cannot be (1) a blank check (2) multi-generational. It has to work for those groups right from the kindergarten stage and there needs to be feedback mechanisms in place to dynamically tweak the "helping hand" programs.
I am currently not in favor of any sort of gender favoring program in the tech industry. If indeed people are concerned about lower percentage of a certain group in certain professions, how about the lower percentage of men in veterinary medicine? Where are the calls for women in construction? Women in sanitation work or garbage collection? How about men in psychology?
Unfortunately due to a combination of lazy politicians and a proliferation of certain ideological dogma in the Humanities academia, we have reached a situation where policies are created keeping in mind least possible effort for most possible return (political capital, soundbytes, etc.). As you rightly pointed out these policies are only pitting groups against one another and in the long term are actually detrimental for our society.
So in my opinion the solution needs to be twofold: (1) Grassroots long term approach (2) Treat people as individuals and not as part of any group.Dec 16, 20183
- @exWV57, tech is very different than veterinary medicine and construction in the way that it scales and affects the world. we are solving large scale problems. other professions do not have such a wide ranging impact from such a small group of people. this makes it important for people from ALL backgrounds to be a part of creating technology. It affects the world that we ALL share in such drastic ways. We engineers do not just get a spec that needs to be blindly followed, we are also very much involved in product discussions and decisions. also some of us grow into other roles such as UX or a visionary, leadership role. Ideally we would make this an inclusive environment for all people and seek to promote a value of diversity.
- @(Google mircks)
There are ways to make an inclusive environment without active bias and discrimination. Hiring a person while rejecting another simply to meet gender quotas does not actually make for inclusivity. That in itself is the very definition of sexism and exclusivity. When in fact the person being favored could very well already be in a position of social/economic advantage compared to the one being rejected. As I mentioned before, this discrimination is in favor of a politically/ideologically favored group, so everyone pretends that it is OK and pat each other on the back. Your point about tech vs. construction is valid, but incomplete. What about men in teaching? Vast majority of teachers are women. Surely, the role of shaping the future generation is one of such "wide ranging impact" and "affects the world that we ALL share in such drastic ways" that it cannot be left overwhelmingly to a single gender? What about the women in physics movement? Why are there unspoken gender quotas favoring women when filling tenure track physics positions in academia?
I really don't have a problem if 90% of people in tech/construction/teaching/physics/etc. were all men or all women, as long as each person in their position got there through their merit. What is appalling is the hypocrisy and double standards favoring one group vs. another for specific fields. And it is worse when people try to hide that hypocrisy under a veneer of self-righteousness simply because the double standards favors their group of choice.
- I agree on a lot of your points. I agree that there should be more male teachers and women in physics. But tech has more $$ so it’s easier to start tackling problems like this than it is in a K12 school district which has very little extra funding.
It’s apparently a hard problem to solve to try to create more diversity. It’s insulting to both men and women if companies discriminate based on gender. I think the most ethical thing to do is things like encourage more underrepresented groups to apply, and to encourage all young students to try out computer science. Lowering the bar is wrong and hopefully this is uncommon.
- It boils down to equal opportunity vs. equal outcome. Any reasonable person will always want equal opportunity for all. However, most of those clamoring for equal outcome are simply not willing to consider that perhaps there are fundamental innate reasons that make equal outcome in many cases a natural futility. In fact the stridency for equal outcome is disrespectful to the diversity of choices different people make. Being cognizant and respectful of these differences can go a long way in fostering inclusiveness and equal opportunity.
- Make a poll.
It's usual not only for interviews but in teamwork too
- It doesn't matter. Almost all people in positions of power didn't get there on skill alone. It's in fact a waste of energy/inefficient to over-index on skill. Especially considering that there's only a small percentage of people with deep amazing skill in a domain. What you want to chase after is success and success is multi-faceted. It's not just based on skill in a domain.
- Also, it's not a card to play. It's being saavy and using everything you have to offer and not letting biases interfere with you achieving success. Men do this. Everyone does this. There's no such thing as *I* earned this on my own. It takes a village. Plus, level of skill and ability is highly subjective.
Take artists or famous musicians/composers for example: many weren't praised while alive. But after death and years later suddenly they're amazing? Their skill and talent/output didn't change. People changed their perspective and changed their minds as to what qualified as amazing.
Edit: and in case you think "well yeah sure that's art" let's consider examples from science: 1) people once thought that a frontal lobe lobotomy was genius and the first person to perform it was given a nobel laureate, regarded as highly skillful. Years later we're wiser and realize fuck that person wasn't skillful, they were a complete fool for doing that. 2) Einstein's teachers thought he was an idiot.
In conclusion, trying to figure out if you're "truly qualified" is a waste of energy. But I understand how a mind can be consumed with those thoughts. Don't let them weigh you down. Keep moving forward. Don't look back. Carve your own definition of success and skill.Dec 14, 20184
- These choices are stupid and framed terribly. I'm not sure you're a woman because most women engineers I know are extremely competent and have to work harder than men in most jobs to overcome the extreme bias like the one in this post. Please never come to Amazon, we have enough misogynists here already.
- LinkedIn WormholeIt’s because execs \ HR \ recruiting are trying to fill quotes from a fixed size talent pool. You can’t possibly have 50/50 mix of engineers when the talent pool you are sourcing from looks way different, but it’s too hard to address the underlying reasons for that so they just take the easy path and lower the bar. Sometimes by preferential sourcing, frequently by lower bars all the way along to get diversity boxes ticked.
Yes, some poor managers \ coworkers will hire you to put a tick in their annual review for diversity hiring.
Yes, some poor female engineers will take the charity offer even when they know they’re just being used to tick a box.
Not everyone hires like that though. The strong female engineers, and it sounds like that applies to you, will go where they get the feeling in the interview that they’d rightly be treated as equals and used for their professional skills on the team.
The way you were treated in the interview will be the way you are treated on the job. It will help your career development more to pick the team that interviews you properly. They will give you real challenging work because they see you as a capable engineer. The other team will give you “we’ll let the diversity hire do it” stuff.
- I'm male and in my experience female engineers beat the mean hands down. What they don't do is push for visibility or speak up at meetings. This is undoubtedly because of the implicit power dynamic being the only woman in the room. And it's a problem.
The reality is only good female engineers pick Engineering because there's too much friction otherwise. So lowering the hiring bar seems appropriate, as the distribution suggests you'll end up with greater than average candidates more often than not. Even if you hire subpar females, you increase the likelihood of the good ones impact.
Pretty strong even if but also argument.
- Y'all are idiots.
Simple stats. Let's assume that in general women are worse. Let's approximate this by modeling the talent of a femakl engineer by a normal distribution whose mean is less than a comparable normal for men, with same variance. Now assume that instead of sampling from the whole normal for women as with men, there's a 50% chance an given women less than 1 standard deviation over the mean opts out of Engineering due to friction.
You're left with a normal distribution with mean 1 SD above the original. So unless you think the average woman is 16% worse than the average man, I have a pretty good case for the average woman beating the average man.
That being said, obviously all of the best engineers I know are men. But that's just a numbers thing. Just more samples resulting in more representation from the tails.
I really don't see a rational way to disagree with this.
- Lol you literally contradicted yourself. You say female engineers best male engineers hands down, then go on to say all the best engineers you know are men 😂
Also the avg women is likely to have gotten her job due to diversity quota. Only the top 20% of women get their job due to performance, the rest are charity cases
- I’m a female engineer and have seen the bar lowered for both males and females. I think manager just hire who remind them of themselves or who they are comfortable with. I look at the managers on my team, the Indian managers hire Indians (male/female), the white managers hire mostly white people (male/female), the finance team is mostly Asian (non-Indian) females and the manager is (surprise!) also Asian (non-Indian). Most low performers on my team are males but these are guys who can talk themselves out of anything.
- New bkahdeboahThe way my company currently does hiring is to actively work to get women and people of color into or hiring pipeline. We have a fairly rigid review process past that. We don't actively work hard to get white guys to apply for our jobs, they do that already. Once in our pipeline I'd be lying if I said all bias was removed, but we do our best to remove it by always using the same questions, having criteria etc.
- Litmus / MgmtydCc77When I hire, I'm trying to round out the team, to look for weaknesses that we have that can be shored up with a hire that has deeper experience in that area. In looking for that, I'm also *ideally* looking for someone that has a different background from everyone else on the team. This might be gender, or it might be that they came into the field a different way, grew up somewhere else, has different interests, is a minority, whatever.
Given two people with similar credentials, I'm going to go with the one that brings something to the team we don't already have. That's good for the hire, good for the other team members, and good for the company. But whoever I hire they have to have the skills first and foremost.
I do try to compensate a bit for differences. For example, white men are generally more willing to overstate their abilities and accomplishments. Women and many minorities by comparison are hesitant to be bold about what they've done and are more likely to undersell it. So in the interview process I try to compensate by drawing those accomplishments out so we get a good 1:1 comparison.
I also put a lot of emphasis on particular aspects of positive culture, and do my best to filter for toxicity during the screening process, and that includes bro-culture. All of that can make it *feel* somewhat biased towards women in the hiring process -- especially if my current team makeup means we really need to find another qualified woman to fill the role if we can.
I'm still not going to hire you if you're not qualified though.
Side note: I also agree that you might be over-thinking it. Hiring fast is something we sometimes have to do for varying reasons. It might be because of what the roadmap looks like and how long we know it'll take to get someone up to speed. It might be a dry-spell of remotely qualified candidates. It could be that our leadership is threatening to pull the position if we don't fill it right away. I wouldn't sweat it. If you can mostly do the work and have some room to grow you're in the right place.
- Google ralfiHonestly mate, hard to apply population level statistics to an individual. Are some men biased against women? Probably. Are some organizations biased in favor of women? Probably. What does it mean for you? Impossible to say. You can only take the advantages given to you and try to be the best you can. Like anybody else.
Lemons, lemonade, ....
Sidebar: I know a lot of competent women in tech. At a previous company, I also know many others who got there by virtue of their gender (they sucked at work). These women are giving you all a bad name. The imbeciles focused on equal representation rather than equal opportunity are to blame for this. Good intentions and all.
- You left one option out, I am a male/female and I have higher bar for females. I personally do.
- Amazon / EnglTpS47moreI'd love to respond but there are no women on my team in a tech role. Our skip is a woman and she's fantastic, but not a hard tech role and not really in a position to easily determine if she raises the bar.
Definitely better than our last 3 skips, though, who were all men
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- New ffffuuuuunNeeds more options. Pls add "I am female-male, I assume I am competent until I prove myself otherwise."
- Square ☄️☄️☄️☄️☄️These poll options are strange. Of course everyone sees gender but you can do that without seeing someone who is different as less than or prejudging their skills
- Nope. I've worked with men/women, whites/Indians/Chinese/Brazilians, people of different religions and what not. And I've always treated them all similarly and with respect, and I've always received the same treatment. I've, for some reason, been the youngest person on all of my teams (except interns) and some of my best co-workers were middle-aged women.