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Coder Livetweets Alleged IBM Execs Discussing Why They Won’t Hire Women

Topics: Current Events

Toronto editor and coder Lyndsay Kirkham just wanted to go out to lunch for her birthday. What she got was an earful of mansplanation, courtesy of conversation of the alleged IBM executives at the next table, about why young women are bad hires. (Short version: they keep getting a case of the babies.)

maternity ward 

(Photo Credit: mikekline/Flickr)

“I was eating my lunch and they were already into ordering their coffees,” Kirkham tells Aja Romano at The Daily Dot. “They started addressing how women weren’t ‘an option’ for new hires.”

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Her tweets follow: 





Since then, the story has blown up on the internet. CBC News covered it, as did Jezebel, Bustle, and The Huffington Post. Kirkham appeared on The View. Outlets both overtly feminist and mainstream were talking about how sexism — usually cloaked, but here, for once, right out in the open — holds women back, particularly in tech.

As these things usually go, however, there was a price to pay, for the whistleblower.

On her blog, Syndications on the Rights of Women, Kirkham explains:

Over the last six days, there have been a number of examples of both men and women demonstrating the status quo of sexism and misogyny. One woman suggested that if women didn’t like the ‘mommy track’ they were put on then they should allow companies to ask about family plans during interviews. Ummmm. No. That’s called discrimination. Another man pointed out in a facebook message he sent me (really? you take the time to find my personal facebook page?) that there is no such thing as sexism; that women having babies is a very real problem for companies and I should just go back to taking better care of my son. There has been a lot of mansplaining. Oh, so much. A lot of pushy, ‘well, listen to me, I am a guy in tech and I know that you are wrong and ohhhhhh you’ve hurt my feelings’ going on.

I don’t really care if I am hurting your feelings, or making you look at the ugly reality that there are a lot of people who still get up in the morning, put their pants on, and take their misogyny to work with them. A lot. Just like there are a lot of people who take their racism, abelism, and classism into work with them. They are usually the same people that start flipping out and calling me a feminazi when I talk about the wage gap that is backed up by, you know, math.

The latest statistics from the Department of Labor are for 2012, when women made 81 cents for every dollar men made. Women are still more likely to work part-time, to take on more of the unpaid domestic labor involved in managing a home, to interrupt their careers in order to raise a family, and to choose fields that pay less. As Kirkham points out, the math is clear.

One way to start closing the gender wage gap is to call out, in a public forum, behaviors that reinforce different rules for male and female workers. If we can’t get federally mandated, paid maternity leave, we have to start somewhere.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Many employers are reluctant to hire women because females as a group pose a greater risk of a lawsuit, including a lawsuit of sexual harassment that may be manufactured.

Women are more likely to sue when they’ve been fired. So some employers may think, “Why hire them?”

“The Sexual Harassment Quagmire: How To Dig Out”

“The Doctrinaire Institute for Women’s Policy Research: A Comprehensive Look at Gender Equality”

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