Am I Sexist? A letter to Yegor Bugayenko

5 minute read 07 July 2017


But you already knew that. You just want to rationalize your sexism.

This is a response to Yegor Bugayenko's incredibly myopic article about women in computing, wherein he asserts that women and men are fundamentally different, and that women are unfit for certain jobs.

There's no words for his comments other than idiotic, disgusting, offensive, and misogynistic - no matter how he tries to spin his views as "loving women".

Don't know much about history?

It seems that Yegor has forgotten the history of computer science, so let's take a refresher course with this non-exhaustive list of important women in computing.

  1. Ada Lovelace Arguably the first computer programmer. That's right, Yegor. Without women you wouldn't even have Java.

  2. Grace Hopper Pioneered compiling technologies, and paved the way for the development of COBOL.

  3. Evelyn Berezin Known for creating one of the first word processors.

You might notice how there are more women in computing pre-mid 1900s, and that's no accident. I've before written about the impact of computer marketing during the 1980s, and NPR does a great article which I recommend giving a listen. In summary, the dominance of men in computing was never due to biological differences or men supposedly being better at logical problems. The decline of women in computing was due to culture and advertising - a culture to which your unfounded and insulting comments contribute.

But OK! With that out of the way, let's take a look at what you've written in defense. I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

We must not be equal, because we are different.

Where have I heard this sort of sentiment before? From numerous hate groups like the KKK and Neo-nazis. This ideology was also used to rationalize segregation in America for centuries. Please note that I am not accusing you of supporting any of those groups. However, I am saying that you should rethink your ideology when it begins to sound like extremist rhetoric.

My 20+ years of experience in coding tells me that this job is not fun most of the time. It's hard, it requires a lot of rigid logical thinking, it's rather boring, and it's a constant war against machines and against other programmers who produce unmaintainable and unreadable code.

I don't feel good about sending women, who I was raised to protect and respect, into this war.

If there is one idea you should take away from this post, it's that you were never raised to respect women. You were raised to believe women are meek and need your "protection". This is not respect. Many of us were raised to hold these beliefs. However, that is no excuse, and it is our own responsibility to recognize that gender has little bearing on ability. Women are not meek, they do not need protecting, and they certainly aren't "physically and emotionally" inferior as you imply.

Am I a sexist? Maybe so. But that's how I was raised. That's who I am.

Let me give you some background. I was raised in a conservative area. I was raised to be against gay marriage, gender identity, even interracial marriage. That's just how society was in my area, and it was the sort of things I was exposed to.

We are all inundated with discrimination from an early age, which is why it is so important that we recognize it and fight for equality.

You need to realize that how you were raised is not synonymous with what is right. You are a human. Learn to become a better version of yourself.

Let's take a look at some comments.

You need to realize that freedom of speech and freedom of consequence are different. vJUG absolutely made the right choice in denying you to speak. While it is well within your right to say whatever you believe, it's also within their right to deny someone with deeply held misogyny from speaking. What you say is not harmless but damaging. You are fueling a fire than women in computing have been trying to overcome for years. For any conference to host you would mean they are complicit with your damaging opinions. I sincerely hope you are denied these opportunities unless you realize your errors and apologize.

It is laughably inaccurate to call this illegal. vJUG is a private group, and is not bound by freedom of speech. It is perfectly within their right to bar you from entrance.

Yet the most insulting comment I found was this.

I can't say much more than stop.

I hope you are barred from attending conferences in the future. Your "opinions" are damaging, and your ideology is disgusting. You are an example of the sexism still present not only in the tech industry, but in the modern world.