Odd how you can replace “senior dev” with “parent” in the original post and it still works fine.
“Predictably, all of these were from straight, white, male developers, ages 25 years-or-older”
Not only is this lousy science, it’s lousy sociology too. As a society we already have too many problems with stereotypes to have educated, influential people supporting them. It seems that instead of trying to kill stereotypes we are creating new ones, perhaps in some misguided hope they will combine with the old ones and disappear in a flash of smoke together.
Nope. Now we have one more stereotype.
I tend to be of two minds around the (deserved?) white male bashing in and around our industry. Spoiler alert: I’m mostly against it.
Sure, the tech industry is fucked up and it’s white men (like me) who are in the positions of power (unlike me) who perpetuate the fucked-up-ness. Of course, a rational person would recognize that it is more likely to derive from their position of power and the general culture of amorality than from their gender, much less pigmentation…
The Silicon Valley culture venerates immaturity, hubris, and arrogance. It’s easier to control people who are arrogant in a predictable way– one that comes from inexperience and moderate privilege, emphasis on moderate because the truly privileged, those high enough in the system to see how it works, aren’t the founders or employees, but are put on track to be VCs. For the employee ranks and, to a lesser degree, founder/executive positions, Silicon Valley needs people who are privileged enough to be prone to hubris (specifically, unwise career risks taken for others' benefit) but not so privileged as to see what is actually happening. That sort of person tends to be a white or Asian male from a wealthier-than-average suburban background.
Age has little to do with it. It’s a variable that we read a lot into, but it’s almost completely meaningless as a judgment of a person’s traits. People become slightly better as they get older, on the whole, but with an emphasis on slightly. Some people get worse, some improve, and the individual movement generally trumps the aggregate slow change. Anyway, there are plenty of awful people in all age groups, and plenty of good people as well. This shouldn’t be news.
In general, I’ve found female programmers and programmers from racial minorities to be better (both as programmers and as people) than the dominant group, white and Asian males, in technology. Is this because women are innately better than men? No, of course not. Is it because racial minorities are morally better than whites or Asians (here, not considered a minority)? No, I doubt that, as well. In society as a whole, in terms of intelligence and moral character, there seems to be a 0.00 correlation with pigmentation or gender (and, as I mentioned above, only a very slight positive one with age).
So why is it, in tech, that the worst people are often white and Asian males? No, it’s not because we’re all assholes. To a large degree, it’s the selection process: it just takes so much fortitude for a woman, or someone from a racial minority, to get into the tech industry that only the really, really good people have a shot (and, even then, they fill out the employee ranks instead of becoming founders). If a woman (excluding one who dated a VC or founder, and I won’t list names, but a few come to mind) or a black person (or even a white person from middle-middle-class or lower background) had acted the way Evan Spiegel or Travis Kalanick or Paul Buchheit act, the VCs would have washed that person down the drain a long time ago.
What you have put forth is also the genesis of a stereotype. This stuff is hard, because the genesis of stereotypes is our ability to take a few samples and assume a mean. It MOSTLY works. I mean what are the odds of that lion chasing you being 2x faster than all the other lions you’ve seen? Unless, of course, you’ve only seen two lions in your life. Fat ones too. And you are bad at measuring speed, because you can’t judge the angle from a distance, and … and …
The simple rule is this. ANYTIME you draw a conclusion about a wider group of people from a sample, it’s a stereotype. Especially so for a super-subjective characteristic like “better”. Human dimensionality is so staggeringly high that no amount of sampling gets us close for such complex characteristics as “better”.
The only way to have a valid statement about a group, like you have here, is to start by saying, for example, “I know all the women and minorities in tech. And they are all <objective metric>” Everything else is a stereotype.
You may be right, and I try to avoid falling into the biases produced by stereotypes, I recognize the difficulty of it.
I would say that I’ve observed patterns. I’m a white male and I’m not a bad person. In the general population, neither being white nor being male seems to have any correlation with intelligence or moral quality. Even age has only a very slight correlation (positive) that is trounced by individual variations.
In technology, though, there’s a definite “bro” pattern of toxicity. It emerges from the VCs and who they fund, and those people tend to choose executives who are just like them. As a consequence, people who survive in technology despite obvious departures from that pattern tend to be better. They tend to be more talented just because they’ve had to overcome more challenges, and they tend to be morally better because amorality is a cornerstone of the “tech bro” archetype and a person sampled from outside of it (whether white or black or Asian, male or female or non-binary) is, ceteris paribus, going to be a better human being than someone samples from within that “fundable” set (many of whose characteristics are negative).