Opinion How people in IT treat one another is a subject whose taboo nature is having a deleterious effect on talent acquisition and retention.
Some see it as chauvinism and machoism run amok, especially if their axe to grind is the lack of women in tech. Others have different views, but the topic is so charged that any attempt at debate goes thermal so quickly that solid research (and thus solutions) is almost impossible.
Before I get too deep into this I should add a disclaimer that the below does not represent the opinion, stance or views of The Register, advertisers, or anyone else (sane or not). If you want to yell at someone, click my name above and vent your rage into e-mail form.
Personally, I don't buy that women are kept out of tech because tech is "chauvinistic." At least not in the sense that most techies care about the gender of their target of abuse. Genderism exists in both directions, but in my research on the topic the technorati are equally awful to everyone.
This leads me to the conclusion that the ladies are, in general, just smarter than the guys. They see the kind of hostile environment that IT represents and say “nope”. The young men who enter IT, on the other hand, either don't see how bad it really is until they're too deep in, or they have been conditioned their whole lives to accept that this is just the way things are and carry on.
Now, there's a whole nomenclature-based debate about whether or not the above is chauvinism and I am perfectly willing to admit there are going to be lots of folks who think I am wrong. I concede ahead of time whatever you want me to concede on that front so we can focus on the bit that is actually important: machoism.
As bad as their abusers
Traditional male culture is awful. We're horrible to one another. We have spent millennia viewing other males as either disposable, automatic rivals or both.
Males have been raised generation after generation to view everything as a competition, and everyone else as a threat. What's worse, those who've gone into tech were traditionally the losers: those who would never be the most popular, never get the most desirable mates, those who suffered the brunt of the shaming and hazing ritual we call secondary education.
Most rebels, once they obtain power, become at least as vicious as the oppressive regime they sought to replace. Techies are no different. Instead of creating a welcoming, nurturing environment of comradery, we've created an industry-wide cesspool of hatred, vindictiveness, petty rivalries and tribalism.
We didn't seek to obtain power in order to end the exploitation; we sought only to become the exploiters. Essentially, we're Ferengi.
If you've read this far you're probably wondering what this has to do with women in tech. In truth, not much. The women in tech thing is one really minor example I threw up front in order to send the really foaming-at-the-mouth types shrieking to the comments section before they would finish reading the article. That way they'll be really easy to identify and ignore later on.
A far more damning example of machoism affecting everyone in tech, regardless of gender, is how we treat anyone that dares to ask a question.