The Australian Men's Computer Society


It takes a special sort of lack of self-reflection to make International Womens' Day about men in IT but the men of the Australian Computer Society are made of pretty stern stuff with their upcoming event to celebrate the male champions of change! At this headline event they will shine a light on special men who personify ANZ Bank CEO Mike Smith's quote;

It strikes me that we need to celebrate men who have a track record of hiring, developing and advancing women

It appears to have struck him with insufficient force, and other things appear to have not occurred to him at all.

Women fight for every iota of recognition and merit within commercial IT, communities like the various open source software scenes and technology in society movements.  Women are intimidated and harassed at technology focussed events, they are treated like they are second rate technology practitioners (or worse, their male counterparts act pleasantly surprised when they achieve), and they are expected to practice "soft skills" on the job because "women are good at that stuff"- business-side engagement, organising people and things, administration tasks. Women's technical expertise is expected to be bronze standard but their housekeeping skills come into good use in the office.

When women are successful in IT, they are treated to the phenomenon where their gender is their defining professional feature.  Primarily, women who are recognised for their success are sneered about by men, who dismiss the recognition as being because they are a woman.  "Need to keep it even", "The ladies need to have some accolades", "she'll get this one to avoid HR's gaze but it's back to the real competition now".   The Australian Computer Society has outshone itself by being able to add to the caveat "it was because she's a woman", by formally introducing "it was because a man enabled her".

This event is a disgrace.  If you are a man in IT who is a member of the Australian Computer Society, I urge you to support women in technology by tearing up your membership card and mailing it to your local chapter with a letter.  That letter should explain that a decades-long history of women's achievement in IT being characterised as an adorable anomaly doesn't need a new era where women's achievement in IT is because of the men who enable them.

Update:  The ACS has replaced the event with one that is less offensive, but put the details of it at the original link.  This means that the link this article originally went to, showed the less distasteful content but without acknowledging the original.  The original event details are here.

Image:  brand0con