The meritocracy is a sort of metastory. It’s a story in so much as it’s something we repeat to each other. But it’s a metastory in so much as we use it to construct other stories. A story factory, if you will. When someone is included or excluded from our project, the meritocracy can be used to tell a smaller, specific story about why that is the case.
The meritocracy is a boundary policing tool, in the very literal sense of determining who is permitted access to open source power structures. We think we’re judging people objectively, but that is demonstrably not the case. (The homogeneity of open source being the most obvious indicator that something is wrong with this picture.) Studies show the meritocracy actually exacerbates in-group bias, ensuring that the only people we let into the community are those similar to us. And as Nóirín Plunkett points out, the meritocracy also disproportionately rewards self-confidence and assertiveness, thereby institutionalising a gender gap.
“The meritocracy” is a sort of newspeak, then, for the act of judging people (with no accountability) against what we, privately, think contributors ought to look like. In this sense, it is perhaps the most insidious hierarchy-enhancing legitimising myth in open source. Not only for its power to convince us that the structural inequality is just, but in its near universal application to any sort of perceived impurity on an individual-by-individual basis.
Meanwhile, white male managers who promote women and people of color aren’t penalized for valuing diversity. Perhaps that’s because, when a white man recruits a diverse group of people to work beneath him, he’s improving the company’s optics without disrupting the composition of its upper rungs. But when a woman or person of color does it, she’s threatening the system. As the authors put it: “Minority and women leaders’ engagement in diversity-valuing behavior may be viewed as selfishly advancing the social standing of their own low-status demographic groups.”
This is why “token” female and minority managers are particularly valuable to their companies—they allow executives to point to their commitment to promoting women and people of color (or rather, a woman and a person of color) without actually fostering widespread diversity in the ranks. Women and people of color who succeed in being seen as warm or competent (by disavowing a commitment to diversity) are then coded by their companies as what the researchers call “social outsiders” from their gender and race. Most of the bosses included in the study were white men (no duh), but female and minority bosses surveyed rated their diversity-minded colleagues similarly—perhaps because reinforcing the status quo is a requirement for cracking the glass ceiling.
Having an open source portfolio has become a job requirement. We’re self-selecting the people who are willing to work for nothing and giving them a leg up in the employment process, which has all sorts of detrimental effects in skewing the population of who’s a programmer and who isn’t.
If you come from a good-off family and you can afford to not work for a year to take an unpaid internship, then you get a job. Super similar to that. But programmers have zero class consciousness. If the American proletariat does not have a class consciousness, programmers have negative class consciousness. We even acknowledge that people fuck us over all the time and then do absolutely nothing about it. And we actively harm the attempt to fix the problem. If you mention the word union around programmers, they start frothing at the mouth. But people complain about their boss sticking them over all the time.
It’s a hard argument to make because being a programmer is a relatively well-paid profession, so when I tell people “You should be paid more than $150,000 dollars a year like you currently are,” they’re like, “You sound greedy.” No, the point isn’t whether you’re making enough money or not. The point is that you’re making millions of dollars to your bosses. The reason you can get paid so well is because there’s lots more up there.
I can’t vouch for most of the rest of this interview, but I definitely agree with this part.
Somebody calling you a nigger ain’t a badge of honor. You don’t show off your gunshot wounds. You don’t crow about how people hate you in the name of making yourself look good. You let the dead bury the dead and leave the garbage men in the rear view or in the ground. They should not matter to you or me not nary an inch.
That’s why it feels like diversity-as-marketing to me. The creative teams are killer, and I like that Marvel is putting the full weight of their machine behind these books. I respect the people creating the comics. But I can’t take seeing people be proud of getting hated on in a way that doesn’t hurt them but forces me to think about how crap and dangerous it is to be black (or anything else) and alive in America in 2014.
Actor and feminist, Terry Crews, sheds light on the whole “man up” ideology that young boys are taught in early stages of life. Boys should not play with certain toys that aren’t Tonka Trucks or G.I. Joe’s. Boys should never cry because that is what girls do. Boys should not… blah, blah, blah.
When boys are taught to “man up,” society compares weakness with femininity, and sometimes just being a female is considered weakness, How many times have you heard “Don’t be a pussy” come out the mouths of teenage boys and grown men? Society associates having a “pussy” with weakness. Women are emotional and fragile creatures in a male dominant society and in order for this dominance to remain, men must act like a “man.” A “man” within societal standards is strong, emotionless, intelligent, and aggressive (not necessarily violent, but aggressive in terms of determination and work ethic). To be a “man” society forces men and young boys to suppress what makes them human: emotions, feelings, compassion.
As Terry Crews points out in this interview with Larry King, within the African American community, men are pressured to act a certain way by society. There is a stigma that surrounds African American men, the media portrays them as aggressive, violent, and generally what society expects from a “man.” Men are told to “not be so sensitive” and “don’t be such a girl” when it comes to issues that involve their emotions and feelings. If someone is offended they have every damn right to be upset, sensitivity is not solely for women, sensitivity and feeling are what make you human. Being “feminine,” “sensitive,” or a “girl” does not make you weak. It makes you human.
Truth. That’s the neighborhood. And it’s an extremely exhausting way to live.
Terry Crews is awesome.
Let’s be clear: Women of every background face challenges when they try to balance careers and families, not least of which is the expectation that they should feel guilty for working outside the home even when they have no choice. But women of color often face additional pressures that white women are far less likely to encounter. Some of those pressures are rooted in economics and are more frequently faced by low-income women; others are applicable across the income spectrum. Together, those challenges boil down to a simple reality: Race matters, including in the responsibilities of family life—particularly taking care of the young, the old, and the sick—that still fall mainly to women.
The tacit assumption was that certainly, criticism of the active harm Eich chose to do to queer families would be merited if he was not such a good engineer — but since Eich had done valuable work, making him a valuable person, we must relax the ethical standards we hold him to.
This is weird. If we wouldn’t tolerate a certain behavior from a 17-year-old newbie contributor, should we tolerate it from the CEO? By working hard, do people accrue the right to hurt others? To me, it seems backwards that Mozillans took it as a given that a leader should be held to a lower moral standard — took it as a given that one of the perks of being a leader is the freedom to abuse.
In tech, great power seems to come with diminished responsibility — or at least diminished accountability. And all that “meritocracy” seems to mean in tech is the privilege accorded to white men to work their way to the top — only with technical labor, as the discounting of the opinions of Mozillans who were not engineers shows — so they can subjugate and harm other people once they get there.