"Every time a company hires someone who isn't a young male, they run a risk."

Reading time: 2 minutes

Obviously, the title to this post isn't my opinion. Instead, it's a paraphrase of something from a Dave Winer post today:

I don't know if there's any solution to this. I certainly don't advocate not hiring people Roy's age -- I'm now older than he was then. But every time a company hires someone who is not a young male, they run the risk that the new hire isn't there to work, rather is there to scam you.

Dave's assertion is that young males (who are white, he later clarified in the comments) are a safer hiring bet, based in part on an anecdote about a poorly-performing employee he had in 1985. It's also very clearly meant to be analogous to Julie Ann Horvath's experience at GitHub, and not in a positive way.

This is bullshit, and it's important to call it out as such.

  1. Whether intentional or not, the timing of this post demeans the experience of a woman reporting harassment in a major tech company. The implication that she might be a scammer is noxious, but also implied rather than clearly stated; if this is the intention of the post, why not clearly state it, and if it isn't, why was this post published now?
  2. There is no evidence that young, white males are more productive, more trustworthy (!), or better hires in any way. They certainly dominate the industry, but there are all kinds of unmeritocratic reasons for this. Model View Culture is doing a great job of debunking some of these ideas. The solution is smarter hiring and a better culture, not very unsophisticated demographic judgments.
  3. This harms all of us. A monoculture that empowers systemic harassment makes for worse software, a weaker market and a worse experience for our customers. If you're building products for sale, you want to draw on the best possible skills and experience for the job. Why on earth would you limit the kinds of people who can help you based on their gender or ethnicity?

White males like Dave Winer and myself have inherent privilege that must be acknowledged. It's our responsibility (at least partially) to make the tech industry a more welcoming, diverse place. Posts like today's throw all the good, brave work that's being done by vulnerable people directly back in their faces. It's not acceptable, and it must be called out.