zero tolerance
Kelly Ellis

Saddened by a Technical Unrecruiter

I was saddened to read about sexual harassment in the supposed paradise of the Bay Area (of course we know it ain’t now, but it still depresses me every time)

I am in two minds about the words the guy typed to Kelly Ellis. On the one hand, his reading of biology is correct and completely apposite; yes, men really are motivated to harassing behaviour by female company. On the other hand, it’s not OK. It has never been OK. Even when the law said it was OK, it was not OK. Since this recruiter talked about the author’s sex, presumably her credentials were either spot on for the job or of no consequence to him, otherwise why not just talk about that…

Depressingly both possibilities make the guy a sexist whose ability to make forward-looking business decisions is impaired to the extent that he does not see each potential hire for what they are, rather than some aggregate number. Stats can be great when dealing with customers and deciding who to target for revenue maximisation and UX optimisation, but stats on female labour force participation and dropout rates does not magically mean that a woman will leave her job after a few months to start a family. In fact just saying it like this should make clear how absurd the assumption is.

So on the one hand I agree with the guy’s factual assertions about averages, but throwing averages around when confronted with a flesh-and-blood human being won’t lead to the best decisions, otherwise the jury would be in on big data by now. There is no excuse for hiring practices that should pass up the opportunity for people of either sex to do good work together.

And as for harassment at work? Harassment in any form is an invasion of a person’s property and so is immoral, and the law and behavioural norms should reflect that, whatever somebody thought before they took the liberty of speaking in a demeaning way, touching inappropriately or whatever else.

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