Misogyny is alive and well in technology circles

Geek heroine Jeri Ellsworth put up a YouTube video explaining how she might build a $10 version of the $5000 audible turn warning system recently installed on Portland public busses. In the comments, someone posting as "peterbartek" (the name of the CEO of TranCert Marketing, the company that installed the $5,000 systems under discussion) told Ellsworth that her video had "set back the progress of women 100 years" by criticizing the company's products. Peterbartek went on to talk in detail about the company's products and the complexities in designing "mitigating devices."

But when Ellsworth's supporters called Peter Bartek to task for telling her that she had betrayed her gender by criticizing his products (one Ellsworth Twitter follower wrote ""@peterbartek The only way Jeri Ellsworth could set back women 100 years would be by developing a time machine in her guest room."), Bartek claimed that his YouTube account had been hacked, disclaimed all responsibility for the discussion, and then stopped answering emails altogether.

Phil Torrone at Make is skeptical of this story about hackers, and instead believes that Bartek was engaging in the long engineering tradition of crapping on women for being women:

When people ask me (or my partner, a female engineer) why we don't see as many women posting their projects, or participating as much online in the engineering community, we usually give specific examples instead of speculating "why?" Here's a good example that really got us upset (TriMet's talking buses, YouTube, sexism, online imposters: It's complicated By Joseph Rose, The Oregonian).

Jeri created a video showing an alternative way to make a noise-making device and strategy for TriMet's new audible warning system for pedestrians. Jeri has also has made a low cost body scanner, transistors, how-to videos, many engineering projects and she's one of the best engineers I know!. Jeri lives in Portland, OR and the bus system there is trying out a warning system, like any good engineer, Jeri thought about other ways to do it, and shared it.

Jeri Ellsworth vs Talking buses #Trimet (Make)

TriMet's talking buses, YouTube, sexism, online imposters: It's complicated (Oregonian)

(Thanks, Phil!)


  1. Pathetic. Really pathetic. How much stupidity and incompetence is protected by bigotry? I hate to imagine.

  2. In my anectodtal experience, female engineers generally have a higher average quality than male engineers. Probably because with engineering being a (sadly) male-dominated field, any girls you come across really wanted to be an engineer, and that enthusiasm really helps.

  3. So basically a CEO is pissed an outside engineer could do it cheaper and faster? And he resorts to being an asshat while doing it? Shocking…

    I know plenty of women in tech fields that are worth their weight in platinum. And I graduated with many who were not…yet they all had job offers none the less. Just saying.

  4. I remember being stunned at how much crap my female engineer and CompSci friends got from their fellow students and, later, coworkers.

    I expected that generally male dominated fields with intelligent people would be begging for women to stay and encouraging them every step of the way. Instead it seemed to be the opposite. Strange.

  5. Does she know how to program? We’re hiring in Portland. It’s actually really frustrating that there are so few female engineers out there, because we want to hire more.

    1. Jeri is phenomimal, I haven’t run across anything technical she can’t do. I don’t know if she is currently looking for work, but it can’t hurt for you to ask. Do a search for Jeri Ellsworth, she’s all over the internet.

    2. It would help if young girls had more exposure to geeky role models. To that end, I created Secret Ada (http://www.panopy.com/iphone/secret-ada/) which sadly has never been featured on Boing Boing. (I’ve submitted it three times, each one fresh, each one following the guidelines to the letter.) Any hints about how to succeed at this would be appreciated!

  6. Nope the issue is that much like racial slurs, the attempt to shut down the person simply because they are female is expected to work because of inherent sexism.

    And no, not all engineers who are male have to be sexist for it to work.

    Just a few of them can directly be misogynistic. All they need for it to work is for the rest of them to be either silent or wax defensive in the “but being accused of sexism is worse than sexism!” manner so that they’ll leap to his defense and protect both him and the power of sexist insults in the industry.

    And… it usually works!

    Just like now.

  7. Jeri is scary talented and truly is an übergeek. Check out the interview she did with Leo Laporte on TWiT, it’s a fascinating story.

    I totally agree with her that those bus warning devices are nothing but noise pollution, and that jackhole from TranCert was totally off base, then resorting to sexist insults was the cherry on top of his asshattery. The BEST part is after getting a call from the Oregonian and denying any knowledge, suddenly his account disappeared.

  8. One engineer craps on women, BoingBoing responds by counterstereotyping the entire engineering field. Makes sense.

    1. this story is not about you

      just read the article again, and didn’t see where BB is ” counterstereotyping the entire engineering field”

      BB refers to one specific incidence of misogyny arising from a “long engineering tradition of crapping on women for being women”, but they’re not saying every male engineer is a sexist. they’re merely stating the fact that misogyny has existed in the past and still exists, in isolated incidents, today.

      further reading on the Make blog reveals that the engineer in question feels “this type of (sexist) behavior has occurred much less in the engineering field, but it still happens.”

      this story isn’t about all engineers everywhere. it isn’t about you. it’s about two individuals.

      @satn: not all engineers are misogynistic. BB’s just calling out one who is. one is all it takes for this story to “work”.

      1. Of course that’s betrayed by the headline of the story “Misogyny is alive and well in technology circles.” Two isolated individuals does not “alive and well” make.

        Regardless, I lol’ed at her awesome video. “YOU ARE BEING RUN OVER BY THE BUS!” Genius.

        1. The fact that these people can do this and keep their jobs is evidence that misogyny is alive and well.

          Engineering has a very few overt sexists, like this CEO, and a whole lot of quiet sexists who do give the overt sexists a pass and attempt to turn the whole conversation about women back onto themselves and HOW AWFUL IT IS TO HAVE MY FEELINGS HURT BY BEING ACCUSED OF SEXISM.

          As demonstrated in this comments reel. Several times.

    2. Um… no.

      The headline says misogyny is alive and well in the field, not that all engineers are misogynists. It’s not that subtle a distinction.

      No where in the piece does it even imply all engineers are sexist pricks. But, if you want to be an apologist for this one, by pretending boing-boing said something it didn’t, go right ahead.

    3. Looking at it some more, on the post this links to… it’s not even implied there, the woman “peterbartek” insulted said this about it,

      “I feel very strongly about this behavior in engineering, because I’ve lived with it since my racing days. Guys would question my ability to build cars until I beat them on the track. Then it often turned to childish behavior like Mr. Bartek’s. Computer stores, almost the same thing. This type of behavior has occurred much less in the engineering field, but it still happens. I don’t know if society has come a long way in 20 years or if engineers are brighter than the knuckleheads at the track. I suspect the latter. “

  9. As far as I agree with the sentiment, I doubt $10 is a realistic estimate. I bet female engineers want to be paid too and then I suspect there are safety tests, etc.

    1. > safety tests, etc.

      Was the expensive, useless system safety tested? It may be safe in the sense that it won’t self-detonate, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll do a damn thing for public safety.

      1. If governments were efficient about ordering stuff, we wouldn’t end up with $600 toilet seats, $800 screwdrivers, and the like.

        There are probably a few levels of bureaucracy and cronyism to traverse. Non-experts requesting changes to your product, etc. But whatever the system is like, it clearly rewards douchebags like the CEO in the article.

    2. So, just to be clear, the proper response when a person with different plumbing than you criticizes your product is to attack that different plumbing?

  10. I worked tech support for about 5 years and at least once a week I’d get a raging douchebag who’d yell at me saying they want to speak to a guy because girls are dumb in regards to computers/the internet. Then I would calmly tell them I am a supervisor and any issues they have with me they can take up with me. After dealing with enough Dbags and forcing them to work with me (or hang up) they’d feel incredibly stupid after I more than fixed their issue and maintained professionalism the whole time.

    You really don’t escape it though. I was the only female in a class of 40 at OSU for a summer class on Engineering. Besides the poking fun, you also get “OOOOH, the only giiiiirl” and then everyone hits on you too. I work in banking now but when I go to the computer store to upgrade something on my personal computer, I still get the “Let’s take advantage of the dumb lady in the computer components department.” Followed quickly by “Oh crap she actually knows what she’s doing… runaway!”

    1. Not to besmirch your technical expertise, but the last thing I want to hear from any customer service person is “I am my supervisor.” If you’re not the CEO, you have a manager I can complain to.
      If you *are* the CEO, and you’re answering the phones, then kudos~

      1. […] the last thing I want to hear from any customer service person is “I am my supervisor.”

        Then today, friend, is your lucky day, because that’s not what g0d5m15t4k3 wrote, but rather:

        Then I would calmly tell them I am a supervisor and any issues they have with me they can take up with me.

        Emphasis mine.

    2. Why, on FSM’s green Earth are you buying computer components from dickheads at a brick and mortar? For shame. Not only are you putting up with unnecessary sexism stupidity, you’re paying too much.

  11. The only way to tell if this is misogyny-in-action, rather than just a douchebag guy selling overpriced stuff to the government, is to have a male engineer propose a similar $10 idea and see how he responds.

    I’m gonna guess that he’ll come up with a different, yet equally lame, response.

    That said, neither $5000 or $10 is reasonable for such a device. Elecronic gizmos to be installed on public buses ought to cost a few hundred $$$. I know, because I’m a male engineer who isn’t a douchebag (mostly).

    1. Elecronic gizmos to be installed on public buses ought to cost a few hundred $$$

      Turn signal relay? That’ll be a few hundred $$$
      Electronic transmogrifier? That’ll be a few hundred $$$

  12. Basically, never read the comments on youtube videos, they’ll just make you mourn for humanity :(

  13. First mistake: enabling comments on your YouTube video -or rather, not disabling them.
    Second mistake: expecting anything of value from YouTube commenters.

    Peter Bartek is a troll. Trolls make sexist comments. Trolls are much like bullies in that they will look for some physical trait or perceived weakness or easy stereotype to attack their victim with. Women and female engineers are no less immune than anyone else. I don’t know what to say other than to offer my support as a red-headed male engineer who was bullied.

    There is a lot of ugliness on the Internet. There is a higher than average amount in YouTube comments. Normally, such comments would have been dismissed as juvenile sexist spewing. The reason, that this one of the vast number of awful things that have been said on YouTube has risen above the fray is simply because the commenter’s anonymity has been unmasked and he happened to not just anyone. Sure it’s bad that he’s the head of company she’s criticizing, but does that really matter? There seems to be a passive acceptance, or at least far more complacency, for this sort of thing when the actors are anonymous. All such unproductive, uncivil and trolling comments should be roundly criticized, moderated, etc.

    Cheers to Jeri, great engineering and design, and civil discourse.

  14. I can’t speak for all female engineers, but I can say that where I work, there’s a glass ceiling so thick and strong you could keep whales in it. In the five years I’ve been at my current company I have never seen a female engineer get promoted, and certainly not to a level of real influence.

    That said, the work is interesting and the pay is still good, so for my grade level I do OK. I suppose I should be satisfied with what I have, but when I see crap like this my head bumps into our glass ceiling, and it stings a bit.

  15. There is an even older engineering tradition of crapping on fellow engineers … just for the hell of it. Done right, it’s a good thing.

    By the comments above, Jeri is more than talented enough to hold her own in an engineering pissing match. These pissing matches are genuine manifestation of a battle of ideas. Not pretty, but oddly productive. Engineers make decisions that could kill someone, but are constrained by time and cost. And the solution is rarely obvious. So you get a weird mix of conservatism and bravado.

    Under normal circumstances, we’re like boxers. We beat the crap out of each other over an idea, go to our corner to regroup, then go at it again. In the end, we decide a winner, shake hands, and get ready for the next match.

    It can be done with a few words, the politest of conversations, or a real screaming match. Good engineers, men and women, stand up for their ideas. Great engineers grab onto the ideas of good engineers.

    Mr. Douche is neither good nor great and effectively conceded defeat when he attacked her personally.

  16. Neat video, and I love PDX, but seriously get your own slogan Portland. There’s only one “City That Works”*

    *even it “works” on clout and cronyism.

  17. As a communications/public policy student who’s also a biology nerd, the underlying current of misogyny in science is insane.

    When I was an undergrad, I was part of the honors college for women in science/tech majors. As my boyfriend was a computer science student, I was asked by a professor once to attend a logic class so they could prove that women might actually be interested in the class. Really. The guys in the class looked at me like I was insane. (I ended up offending all of them when I learned the hard way that none of them knew calculus yet, and I had recently finished Calc II.)

    There’s a theory in risk communication called Social Judgment Theory. You have your main opinion/belief, called an anchor, and an amount of wiggle room, or the latitude of acceptance, as to how far you’ll go from this main belief. If something is presented that fits within that latitude, you’ll be more likely to accept it. On top of that, if a concept is presented to you that doesn’t fit your worldview or within your latitude, instead of adding it to your ideas for scrutiny, you’re more likely to reject it outright.

    This matters because:
    1. Our society, media, and just about everything train kids from the get go that women, and aspects of being feminine, are awful.
    2. Women are pushed out of tech fields once they aren’t ‘needed’ (e.g., women computers of WWII).
    3. Men don’t see women in their field, so that combined with male-bonding through misogyny means that they decide women must not be technologically gifted.

    Once it’s in place as a social concept that ‘X is bad at Y,’ it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where girls will suddenly drop in math scores (there are tons of studies on this). Then guys view it as their ideas being supported, not that these girls themselves need support to stay in math. And the pattern continues.

    Personally, I think we need more people like Vi and George Hart, supporting that math is fun (I had the luck of attending George’s juggling lessons, even though I was atrocious).

  18. I have to agree with poster #1. The guy used misogyny to discredit Ellsworth, but the motivation for his hostility was not misogyny, but a $10 competitor for his $5,000 product.

  19. Peter Bartek is the Director of Technology for ProTran1, the company that developed it. If he is also the CEO of trance marketing, that’s awfully incestuous.

  20. At least he didn’t tell her to get in the kitchen and invent him a sandwich. More power to Jeri.

    1. … uh, he did make a kitchen comment.

      From the Make Article:

      I have no opinion regarding your personal life ‘kitchen and man.’ I don’t know you well enough.

  21. And misandry is alive and well on network tv, just turn on any comedy, and watch the helpless, emasculated, bumbling idiots who represent men. Compare and contrast to the smart, witty, well dress women on the same shows.

    1. I too hate Everybody Loves Raymond. It’s like escaping from your own life into another one just like it.

    2. Oh, you mean the sitcoms that depict women as joy-killing harpies and shrews? Yes, there are a lot of bumbling slobs on tv. But the reason it’s still the usual double standard- well. Ask yourself this:

      Who are you supposed to identify with? Hint: It’s not the always-right-joy-killing-overreacting wife. And then go a little deeper, and wonder why all these fat, bumbling slobs are paired with gorgeous “smart” women…women who are defined solely by their male relationships and to act as a foil to the male characters.

      I don’t see misandry. I see the same old sexism.

    3. Men are often portrayed by unfair stereotypes on television, and at times I get upset about it too. When talking about women, though, you can use that two ways:

      1. You can bring this up to discount stereotypes about women, or
      2. You can use this as a basis to try and understand how the much more pervasive stereotypes might affect them. Wouldn’t it be bad to have your gender treated the way it is on sitcoms, only all the time, in real life?

  22. Thus was it ever. I had the privilege of speaking to the Canadian WREN who was one of the few female Naval Engineers* (if not the) in WWII. She said that, in the tradition of women writing SF at the time, she learned to sign her blueprints with just her initials so that no one would know they were coming from a woman. If that was known the plans were automatically sent off for several more levels of review to make sure that no girly nonsense gummed up the works. If they didn’t know that then the same plans were immediately implemented. The basic design of ship-to-ship missile guidance systems is still based on her work.

    I also note that caveman behaviour is not necessarily misogynist. Acting like a dung-flinging monkey is often an attempt to make sure that the mood is spoiled for any possibility of sexual, or even normal, inter-gender interactions taking place. It is the preferred strategy of pathetic losers and married men who have no chance themselves. Sexual (reproductive) behaviour is all about increasing your importance in the DNA pool and if you can’t increase yours then you can do the same by decreasing others. Most of these “guys” are stupid enough, after decades of failure, to think that “Heh, baby show us your tits” is going to do them any good but it sure will spoil everyone else’s chances to even have a conversation. I’ve seen entire bars empty out into the street to deal with the emergency of an attractive woman asking some other guy for directions. Women have their own sabotage strategies such as harping on about other women’s alleged weight problems.

    It’s a miracle that anyone finds the time to actually go after the other gender when sabotaging your own is considered to be so much more fun.

    *She told me that she had only ever met one other: an American with whom she occasionally corresponded. “Grace Someone.” I suggested “Grace Hopper” and she said that, yes, that was it!

  23. I was really worried for a minute there that we were going to wind up with a clear case of misogyny without having it explained that:

    – Men face prejudice too sometimes.
    – Not all men are misogynists.
    – In fact, very few men are misogynists, and any assertion that women in traditional “men’s disciplines” experience sexism regularly is probably an exaggeration.

    I don’t know what happened; somehow I got it into my head that people might actually just focus on the issue at hand instead of complaining endlessly that someone used the word “misogyny” without including the necessary list of caveats as long as one’s arm.

    Thanks for quelling my fears, everyone.

    1. 1) who would discriminate against men? They have most of the positions of power so it’s mighty difficult.

      2)Correct! But a few bad apples spoil the barrel and it really doesn’t take much to be very discouraging, which brings me to

      3)Bullshit. I have a friend who works as a design engineer. She is one of the best engineers I know. She regularly (as in she tells me about at least one every six months) has clients that won’t talk to her despite her being the senior engineer on the project. She has coworkers who tell her they won’t ride with her alone because it’s not proper for a single man and a married woman to be alone in a car together. She gets to listen to her coworkers talk about their wives as objects, trophies or ball-and-chains every day. I personally get the same ball-and-chain schpeil. I personally get dismissed by field personnel in favor of my male coworker despite it being my area of expertice.

      Every single female engineer I know gets this sort of treatment regardless of where she works. Most of us are good at letting it roll off but that doesn’t mean we like it or deserve it and it DOES mean that there were likely a lot of other women who couldn’t let it roll off. So yeah, your third point is bogus, sorry to tell you.

      You don’t have to conciously be a mysoginist to make a disparaging comment about someone’s gender. It’s normal in our society to do so, in fact. That still doesn’t make it right.

      1. To be fair, tiamat, I believe that I Like Cake agrees with you; he was pointing out the knee-jerk set of “But, *I*’m a guy and I don’t…” reactions this topic generates.

      2. Indeed. I believe you are missing the irony in the post, which is actually commenting on the inevitable tide of whining about how men suffer too and isolated incidents don’t make a culture etc etc that arises whenever an instance of discrimination is pointed out.

    2. @I Like Cake — thank you! You said what I was thinking, so so so much better than I could have done.

  24. #1, #24

    I do think that saying the reason for Bartek’s bashing of Ellsworth was because of her gender is ridiculous: he was clearly bashing her because she represented a threat, and he was being defensive. The problem, however, is that in doing so, his first impulse was to go for an insult about her gender. That tendency in society is a major problem.

    #3 (Lt. Col. w00t)

    I think that might be a rather general thing: in something dominated by one gender, the top of the field tends to be far more balanced than the bottom, where you end up with numerous people who aren’t really interested but are there because of gender expectations. This is why, for example, I’ve found that male figure skaters are far more likely to be amongst the best figure skaters at local rinks: there are usually women who at the same level, but they’re diluted by the flood of girls who really don’t care about skating and just skate because it’s what’s expected. Similarly, women in my classes when I was a physics undergrad weren’t better than men, but they were significantly more likely to be

  25. I am completely lost as to how anything in that video can be interpreted in any way that is even vaguely related to gender equality or discrimination.

    The video might as well be criticizing an ineffective way to fertilize tomatoes, it has absolutely *nothing* whatsoever to do with women’s progress or lack thereof. The argument presented baffles me.

  26. When I clicked on this link, there were 32 comments. I made a little mental bet with myself. “Self,” I said, “within 25 comments, there will be an OMG WHAT ABOUT TEH MENNNZZZ!!!1!!one!! comment.”

    Congrats, GreenJello. You proved me wrong by one.

    Guess that’s ‘cuz chicks are bad at math, hm?

    Can we just once, just one-damn-time, anywhere in the wilds of Internetia, have a single. Bloody. Conversation about the existence of misogyny that doesn’t devolve into some git brandishing his copy of Iron John and wailing? Is that possible?

    When I say, “Something bad sometimes happens to Group Y,” I am NOT saying, “Nothing bad ever happens to Group X.” I’m just saying, yo, something bad sometimes happens to Group Y, and that kinda sucks.

  27. TranCert is wrongly tagged with this bad behavior. TranCert is just a west coast sales rep that carries the ProTran1 line.
    Bartek is out of NJ and is with ProTran1 at http://www.protran1.com/

    ProTran1 is an odd little company. Bartek is listed in various places on the web as the CEO, Director of Marketing, or Director of Technology. He seems to live in NJ, but the official address of the company is a lake house in South Carolina.

  28. FWIW, females now outnumber males by a significant percentage in university departments for my field, geology. In a few years most of the professors will be female as well, which is already happening. Like any science this has long been a male-dominated field, especially with the “manly” imagery associated with it due to working outdoors and so on. I’m not sure what the situation in industry (oil, mining, etc.) is but I suspect it’s still male-dominated there. But it will soon change considering how many more females than males are training to be geologists.

    Biology is another popular field for females, but it’s different there… I don’t think most biology majors end up actually working as biologists.

    My point though is that women are entering and even dominating certain areas of science, and are making big waves in certain engineering fields as well – biomedical engineering being one example. I think it will only take another decade or so before the ratio of males to females in science and engineering will be roughly 1:1, as it will be in every other professional field where it isn’t already.

    1. “females now outnumber males by a significant percentage in university departments for my field, geology. In a few years most of the professors will be female as well, which is already happening.”

      The number of female graduate students is no indicator of acceptance into the field after graduation. Take the MFA in fine arts: the top MFA programs in the nation are comprised of at least 50% women (some up to 60%), yet the number of women represented by galleries in Chelsea is roughly 10%. Brainstormers has more info here: http://www.brainstormersreport.net/Reseach.html

      And as for the sciences, everyone interested in gender stereotypes and their effects should read this: http://www.slate.com/id/2276066/

    2. A little off-topic, but interesting. I am a geology student and here it’s absolutely not the case. Maybe one third of the students are female. Among professors the ratio is only slightly more balanced.

  29. I’m not misogynistic, I just have a god complex…(I keep it to myself for the most part.)

    Hell I remember being in an introductory engineering class in 98 and the professor asked us, “Who is in this field for the money or because they like it.” I was in the 10% that “like it.” Everyone else I guess was in for a shock when they got out in 01/02 and there were very few jobs compared to that internet boom period before 2000…

    I also remember being floored that in my circuits 3 class no one knew that an NP junction forms a capacitor and its impact on a transistor. Even the professor looked stunned that I cracked an eye open and answered his question.

    I would say though, that the city is going to spend a decent amount on putting these devices in. It’s more of a CYA thing than an actual solution to the problem thing. ie. IF something happens to someone involving a bus that is out fitted the city doesn’t want this coming back to their incompetence (or not following proper procedure ect..)

    A lot of times the solution isn’t the expensive part of the equation.

  30. “peterbartek” just brought more attention to you and your story, and more distrust of “peterbartek”
    ( I was going to say “Winning” but Sheen is also misogyny-in-action )

  31. The only way to tell if this is misogyny-in-action, rather than just a douchebag guy selling overpriced stuff to the government, is to have a male engineer propose a similar $10 idea and see how he responds. I’m gonna guess that he’ll come up with a different, yet equally lame, response.

    You just don’t get it. Of course he’ll come up with a negative response, but it won’t be gender based.

  32. Ignoring the misogyny for a second (especially since pretty people get more flak in technology circles despite being promoted easier), I loathe people that put together propagandized videos like this.

    Is $5000 too much for the system? Yes.

    Is what she did of any relevance to it’s cost? No.

    In fact, I would bet the company manufactured the electrical circuit for much less than $10 with a much more sophisticated circuit. I would also guess they then have to pay for packaging which cost a good chunk more than the circuitry. I also guess they had to pay for testing in order to prove salty water from winter roads didn’t ruin the system. I would also bet the engineers working on the project didn’t volunteer. I bet the company turns a profit and is controlled by shareholder interest. I could also think that there is all the administrative salaries that need to be paid.

    It’s frustrating when people spend a few hours of their own time to do something and not think of what it means for a company to spend the time it needed to make a system the government would accept. I’m sure the government overpaid (it always will), and I’m sure there was some after hours deals being done. That doesn’t mean the product didn’t work the way it was supposed to, just that the government paid too much for it.

    I don’t even know why you would direct attention to the product and not the people commissioning it. This should be about the city buying these systems for buses and not why a company would sell a product for a marketable price.

    1. All of those other costs may, in fact, be true (although 500x over parts cost? That seems pretty steep even by government contract standards). However, reply to the criticism, as the CEO (possibly) did with, to paraphrase, “You’re a girl, you don’t understand how these things work” is, definitely, worthy of comment.

      1. The dude’s a dick, but I get irritated when people refuse to try and change things and just propagandize against the easy target (corporations). If people truly want change, they need to pay attention to their local and state government – not on corporations and federal government. It just really bugs me in such obvious cases.

        @Restructure!: Cool. New stuff keeps coming out about it and it’s all addictively fascinating. My personal views on the matter is that race relations are better in this country (US) than the way women are treated. The only bigotry I would call worse is for the LBGT community, but even they have their own forms of misogyny.

    2. Ignoring the misogyny for a second (especially since pretty people get more flak in technology circles despite being promoted easier),

      Actually, pretty men are at an advantage, but pretty women are discriminated against when it comes to jobs considered “masculine”:

      Attractive women were discriminated against when applying for jobs considered “masculine” and for which appearance was not seen as important to the job. Such positions included titles like manager of research and development, director of finance, mechanical engineer and construction supervisor.

      “In these professions being attractive was highly detrimental to women,” said Johnson. “In every other kind of job, attractive women were preferred. This wasn’t the case with men which shows that there is still a double standard when it comes to gender.”

      […] attractive men suffered no similar discrimination and were always at an advantage.

  33. The thing that makes this misogynistic is the fact that his response to being presented with a new, cheaper way of doing the same thing was NOT “That’s interesting”, or even “Your design sucks, and here are the 14 engineering reasons why”, but “Your design sucks because you’re a GIRL.” So what if other people are or are not gender biased? He certainly is.

  34. First, I agree with you that the system is overpriced and not likely to be very effective. But you are making a mistake in looking at the costs.

    You are comparing the cost of the transportation expert, consulting firm, the engineer’s time, the materials, the installation, the testing, etc. with… the cost you paid for materials for one prototype that has not been tested under real world conditions.

    Again, not saying you are wrong about it not helping and about it being over priced…

  35. There’s a difference between saying a story would be more effective with a different slant and whining.

    Phil at Make said ‘long engineering tradition of crapping on women’. That would have been more correct had he left the field out. Not only would it more accurately represent the truth, but it wouldn’t be annoying to engineers who feel misrepresented.

    Perhaps ‘the protected in-group harassing the different people’.

    Engineering, while male dominated, has – as far as I can tell – less discrimination, sexual, racial, or otherwise than most any other field. It’s about things for which there are right and wrong answers. In firefighting a woman will always be weaker but in engineering she’s not at a handicap and can, at least in many places, be respected for her work. By representing engineering (etc) as woman-hating people scare away women who’d love it as a taste, even if only, of equality.

    I say this not just as a man annoyed at “reverse” sexism but as someone pissed off that this rhetoric isn’t helping. If we just hit anyone who made a non race/gender/etc-blind comment we’d be finished in weeks, but this attitude of getting back at the aggressor group (and any innocents who look like them) just feeds the fire.

    Bullies bully. Let’s unite against our foes instead of driving ourselves apart with divisive comments.

  36. My question is this: Did Tri-Met (the transit agency that operates the bus system in the Portland metropolitan area) put out an RFP (“request for proposal”) for this system?

    If so, how does any single person, regardless of gender, with a good, low-cost idea stand a chance to get their good idea through the bureaucratic RFP process?

    If they wanted to, Tri-Met could simply pay Jeri Ellsworth to implement her idea using their own mechanics to put the thing together, but that hardly seems like it could realistically happen.

    (Great video, BTW. And wouldn’t the money be better spent training bus drivers to be better bus drivers?)

  37. A couple of years ago, I moved to Miami to take a job as Director of Engineering for a French Aerospace Company. There were 17 engineers and, this being Miami, they were from 15 different countries. Mostly central and south Americans. All male.

    An opening came up and, rather than hire anyone, I promoted one of the inspectors who had an engineering degree herself and was very smart.

    It did not go smoothly. The Hispanics were not cool with taking orders from a woman (hispanic herself). The French like to debate technical/business matters by seeing who can talk loudest. She had trouble with that.

    Eventually she learned to handle it, but more than once she came into my office, closed the door, and cried for a while. Being a woman in a technical field is no picnic.

  38. This guy is probably one of the bad ones but low level misogyny is rife in the industry. I’m female, I’m a software consultant, an electronics hacker and I’ve run teams and worked over the world during my career. Here are a couple of stories from the many I have.

    My desk used to be near to the CTO’s desk. I once heard him talking to another colleague about a potential job applicant who was Chinese. He was about to interview the applicant. They talked about their qualifications, job history and so on judging them on their abilities. The interview came and went. It turned out the applicant was a woman. My colleague’s first question after the interview was “Is she good looking?”. It didn’t matter what her skills were any more just whether she was a ‘babe’ or not.

    Just recently I was working at a client. One of their engineers found a bug a thought it was related to a work-a-round I had added to get around a particular hardware issue. He started talking to my colleague about the problem. My colleague pointed out I knew far more than he did and that this guy should talk to me. The whole subsequent conversation was me talking to the client’s employee and the employee answering back to my colleague. At no point did he look or talk at me. This employee really didn’t like it when I pointed out his analysis was wrong and he should go and do some more debugging. My colleague even commented on this guy’s misogyny. In the end the client almost forced the employee to talk to me and do the work.

    I can live with minor infractions and often I give as good as I get but sometimes there are male engineers (especially from some cultures) who just wont take orders from a woman, advice from a woman or work with a woman. This makes my job twice as difficult.

  39. Now I want one of those for my work computer. Whenever I get the Windows access violation dialog box – you know, the one that says the memory could not be “read” – I’d prefer a distorted voice to shout, “YOU ARE BEING RUN OVER BY THE BUS.” Bus error (leg crushed).

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