Aggrieved white guy is aggrieved

Brian Hall doesn't care much about building a more diverse and gender equitable tech community:

I have been engaged in a Twitter discussion over what I consider the laughably stupid article in today's (The) Atlantic demanding that men (us good ones) refuse to participate in any tech panel unless there are women on said panel.

How fucking stupid. [...]

If you sign this, then you are dumb. Straight up stupid. You want to go to some conference and learn the best and the latest and the insider-est from Apple, for example, and the panel consists of Gruber, The Loop guys, Asymco but you refuse.

Because there's no woman present.

If you're that stupid I don't even want to look at you.

Two things about this post.

First, as Jim Henley tweeted in response, it's a bullshit scenario. Yes, we can imagine a superstar panel like the one Hall describes, but the vast majority of events don't fit that bill. That you can imagine a reducto ad absurdum does not mean you've disproven the broader case. Or as Henley puts it, "the limit case doesn't invalidate the general."

Second, if there's one thing I've noticed about people who argue against diversity, they tend to see themselves as rebellious, despite the fact there's nothing counter-cultural or transgressive about defending elite white men. Hall, thankfully, doesn't disappoint. He's so angry at the idea of having to share his toys with women that he indulges in ridiculous comparisons. He accuses pledge signers of "close-mindedness" for wanting more diversity on tech panels, and compares the pledge—which encourages supporters to reject panels that are all male or all white—to McCarthyites. If he's trying to argue against proactive efforts to build diversity and bill himself as someone who doesn't hate women, he's failing.

One final point. A commenter on the post made this observation, which was later tweeted at me as an example of insight:

"Hey guys, instead of tearing down the deeply rooted cultural barriers that keep lots of women from entering the fields of technology and science... Let's just leave the barriers up... And boycott panels without women on them! That'll solve the problem!111!"

There should be a name for this. Potemkin Feminism?

This is such a strawman. No one promoting the pledge thinks its enough to solve the problem of gender inequality in STEM fields—at best, like any affirmative action, it tinkers at the margins. But those margins still matter. To say we shouldn't bother to tweak on the margins as long as there are larger problems is to say we shouldn't try to do anything at all, because tweaking is how you begin to address the larger issues.