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Racism At Microsoft? 634

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the ya-don't-think-about-it dept.
chandas sent in linkage to a story running at ZD Net about rascism at Microsoft. Apparently seven former and current black employees want $5 billion, saying that Microsoft fosters a hostile work environment. Is racism an issue in the tech industry? I've been reading Chuck D's autobiography (He is smart as hell) and he talks a lot about racism in the sports and music industries so this subject has been on my mind a lot lately, but it never even crossed my mind that it might be an issue in the tech industry. Of course, as a pasty white boy I probably wouldn't even notice even though I've always thought of the internet as colorblind.
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Rascism at Microsoft?

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  • Asians at my college are still considered a "minority group" even though they make up 52% of all enrolled students and over 90% of students in the engineering school. As such they are entitled to benefits and scholarships the "38% Evil White Majority(tm)" here can't touch.

    Thank got the Univ oc Calif. regents and later the state voters voted to simply remove "race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation" from consideration criteria for all jobs, student applications, etc.

    An end to racism is a good thing, right?

    Guess who is most against and want these laws repealed and the affirmative action programs and admissions rules put back to favoe [ethnic flavors of the day]? It's the ones who run the race based programs, i.e., The minorities who profit from racism (getting state/federal dollars) and don't want it to end. Face it, without hate and racism, what would Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan do for a living? They'd be out of a job, so naturally they don't want racism to end. They need "hate", for their continued existance. And it it's not there anymore, they'll create it themselves.

  • Your post may be an example of the kind of racism that goes on in companies. It is hard to tell from just your post but do you think that whites are better at engineering in general? Do you think that this is the way it should be? Do you think that an aspiring black engineer should have to prove himself (or herself) more than a white one, or be at a disadvantage?

    And, most importantly, are you completely sure that your conviction that "Engineering is largely the sport of white males" would never influence your judgment if you had decide between hiring a black applicant and a white applicant who looks like what you think an engineer or project manager should look like? (I don't mean to accuse you of racism; this is just something to think about. Also consider how this question applies to the judgment of other people you know in your company or in the industry.)

    The point of the lawsuit is that those blacks who do decide to become engineers should not be discriminated against. (Just as it would be unfair to deny a white guy the opportunity to become a rapper if he wanted to.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    That's about what to expect for Microsoft, which tries hard to hire and promote smart people.

    Whites score on average about 30 points below Asians on the SAT I math, and blacks score on average about 106 points below whites. [pbs.org] If you look at the distribution curve, it's even more striking. Only a few hundred blacks per year have SAT I math scores above 700. A 700 Math SAT is about the minimum for a serious CS degree.

    That's reality, like it or not.

  • It seems the general consensus among white, male tech workers is that they belong in the industry. If they are up for a promotion against an equally skilled minority, of COURSE they should get the promotion, because they're automatically more skilled. Because the majority of tech managers are ALSO white, this attitude is perpetuated.

    I don't really think this is limited only to white males. Frankly, most of the american bred high tech workers I've met, especially the really good ones, are not the most modest people in the world. The basic fact of the matter is that when you have an inflated ego, a sense of entitlement tends to follow very closely. This seems to be especially true if you were brought up with a limited exposure to culture and cultural values from outside the US.

    Now it may be that on average, more white families maintain less of their cultural heritage and therefore breed children which surrender themselves to the ego monster more easily. I know this is true at least in my own case and I'm sure the sense of entitlement I project to others has a lot to do with how they treat me.

    Even back to college (University of Michigan), I was faced every day with fellow students who were SO SURE that they were smarter than me, and professors who didn't think that I deserved to be here, assuming that I was only here because of Affirmative Action (I've got that in the workplace as well).

    So my big question is, how do you know your felow students were sure they were smarter than you? How do you know what they assumed? The biggest problem I think that exists is that as long as no one stands up and says something, an act that I might view as perfectly benign may to you be a deeply hurtful thing and the behavior will simply continue.

    A lot of the descrimination I have read in these postings is someone's interpretation of a look or a feeling that someone else gives them. No real blatent descriminating. The problem is that unless you can read minds, the view you take upon a look or an act will be completely tainted by your past dealings with whatever group you've generalized the person into.

    So the next time you feel that you've been descriminated against, no matter how minor, you might want to think about calmly and politely explaining to the person how that act made you feel or what you thought it was motivated by instead of trying to figure out what the other person is thinking.

    Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
  • I can't accept need to redress damages for the acts of the dead. If I never hurt anyone, I hardly see any responsability to repay -- it's as bad as the concept of original sin. I'll be responsible for my own actions, but not for those of others. What's even worse with this concept is that you're making me (because I'm white) responsible for the actions of other white people I never even knew, and who aren't even related to me! (My family came to the States quite recently).

    Your "guilt by color" is every bit as racist as those evils you propose it as restitution to. Since when did two wrongs make a right?

    Finally, ignoring the status quo does not perpetuate it, simply because the link between parents' and childrens' financial wellbeing is imperfect. Even if 90% of a child's financial wellbeing as an adult is determined by his/her parents, that remaining 10% permits racial (and other group-specific) differencials to smooth themselves out over time.
  • I was faced every day with fellow students who were SO SURE that they were smarter than me.

    This is completely normal computer-instilled arrogance though. Every single computing student or worker I've ever met has been like this. The average IT worker has to be the most ego-driven person on the face of the planet.

    I honestly think you're overreacting. I don't have the first-hand knowledge that you've had to your own encounters, but I do know that what you have said so far sounds exactly like what I have experienced as a middle-aged white male.

    Everywhere I've worked (UNIX Systems Admin/Engineering) I've been seen as a remarkably compentent, skilled worker....until I meet the customer face-to-face.

    And how old are you? How do you dress? Do you have punk style hair? Is your speech "refined" or do you speak l337? Do you sport a goatee or some other form of "irresponsible" beard? Do you have annoying habits like shifting your feet, picking your nose, using huge hand gestures, putting your hands in your pockets, scratching your crotch?

    I've seen exactly the same situation you have just described, only it happened to a young white male who happens to like his hair coloured blue and studs in his lips. On the phone he sounds not at all unusual. When customers meet him face to face they fully freak out.

    I guarantee he's either got parents as priviliged as most of yours, or he worked his ASS off to get to where he is now.

    And I don't see how this particular situation is caused by skin colour. Of course, if you come from a privileged family then you'll have a 1st rate head start in computing. If you come from a poorer family then you'll need to work your ARSE off to get anywhere in computing. But this is an economic situation and it applies equally to all people of all skin colours.

    Though I don't often say this, it seems to me you've got a great big chip on your shoulder.

  • Case in point: When I was taking a high-level operating systems course, the prof randomly assigned us to groups. My group conferred primarily over e-mail, giving each other code examples, arguing about 'better ways' of doing things, etc. I ALWAYS seemed to have the correct answer, so it got to the point where everyone in the group generally agreed with me when I suggested something.

    This is not strictly relevent, but it reminds me of a story one of my professors at grad school told me. A few years ago, she was responsible for dividing the class into small groups to carry out case studies, so she simply made an alphabetical list of the students in the class, drew a line across it every 5 or 6 names and those were the groups. Now, there were a whole group of African (Nigerian, I believe) students in the class, who complained that she'd placed them in a group to segregate them from the class. When it was investigated, it was found that all their surnames began with an O! It wasn't racist at all, just a coincidence.

    Incidentally, if anyone, black or white, described themselves to me as a "pimp ass perl hacker" I would immediately assume they were less than competent. Maybe you need to stop using your skin color as an excuse and pay more attention to your professionalism.

  • I feel that the black community is just as responsible as the white community for the current conditions.

    I agree (disclosure: I'm neither black not white :0) ). For example, when white TV executives are casting a black man, they create a character like Dr. Benton on ER - a successful, talented professional. When blacks portray blacks in the media, think about Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre boasting about pimping, dealing crack, stealing cars and whatever.

  • I see a lot of people stating that $5B is too much. This is number is nothing to do with what those 7 people might have earnt. This is about punitive damages. If there is racism, then the damages must be large enough to hurt the company and make them change their ways. It also a warning to other companies. MSFT can easily afford $5B damages without going under.

    I won't comment on the validity of the claims: I don't know the facts. This could be a genuine case of racism, or it could be useless and disgruntled [ex-?]employees trying to play a race card and get money out of MSFT. I think that this is an important case as it will set precedents for the size of future claims. I hope that the trial doesn't turn into another BS circus.
  • "Everywhere I've worked (UNIX Systems Admin/Engineering) I've been seen as a remarkably compentent, skilled worker....until I meet the customer face-to-face. Then, suddenly, my decisions are questioned more, people go over my head to ask about things that are my responsibility. "


    I don't want to discount your experience, but...


    White males don't have life easy either. I've frequently had to fight with people to make it clear that I was right and they were wrong. This is very common within the tech field, and unfortunately the more incompetent the person they more firmly they believe they are correct. One sees this on slashdot all the time, even.


    There is also a lot of discrimination based on age, not so much within the tech community, but if you are dealing with people outside.


    Unless someone is specifically calling you racial names, I do think you need to step back and evaluate the situation on whether the person is really being racist or just being an ass.


    There are a lot of assholes and incompetent jackasses in this world and they don't discriminate based on the color of your skin. :(

  • The idea is to PUNISH Microsoft for what they did. $5,000 or even $5,000,000 is pocket change to them. Lawsuits tend to be for amounts in proportion to the company you're suing, not the amount of damage actually caused to you, for precisely this reason: if you don't sue them for enough money that it shows up on the books, they won't get the hint.
  • It seems like you can sue for any amount of money that you like!

    That's because you can! The amount you sue for has very little to do with the amount you get if you win. Just because you ask for something doesn't mean you get it. And the US court system isn't an all-or-nothing gamble. The judge can say he agrees with the people suing, but give them less than they are asking. In some cases, the judge will actually give them more than they ask for.

    Also remember that a large portion of lawsuits are settled out of court before they go to trial, and the amount is almost always less than was initially asked for.

    Some of the money requested is also meant to punish Microsoft to prevent them from doing things like this again. Also remember that people are greedy, especially lawyers.

  • professors ... didn't think that I deserved to be here, assuming that I was only here because of Affirmative Action (I've got that in the workplace as well).

    Sounds like a good case against Affirmative Action. It causes minorities who actually tried hard, excelled, and earned their position to be looked at as if they don't belong there. It seems like a disincentive to even try, thus repressing the minorities it was supposed to pull up.

    I'm not saying that ending Afirmative Action would make white people respect minorities. And I don't know if there's anything that will really help, except for time, and people trying to respect each other. I'm just saying that Affirmative Action has negative consequences as well as positive, and we should question its effectiveness. It sounds like you would be where you are today without Affirmative Action, and would be able to command more respect.

    That said, I try to practice my own "affirmative action" and give women and minorities a bigger benefit of the doubt, because I know that others have held them back or otherwise looked at them as less than they are. Also as a conscious effort to possibly offset any sexism/racism within my own mind. Actually, I find it nice to see some diversity in the field, and try to encourage it as much as I can.

  • I think that there is an argument for some degree of affirmitive action to be in place, recognizing that the full weight of the historical injustice done to blacks can never be adequately adressed, and that at some point we must put the issue behind us.

    How can we "put the issue behind us" while still "having some degree of affirmitive action ... in place"? Eventually we do need to get to a place where we can put the issue behind us completely, which means no longer having a need for affirmative action. We need to give minorities a fishing pole and some bait, not a lifetime supply of fish. Once they've gotten themselves on their feet, we can take off the training wheels. (Enough metaphors yet?)

  • As stated in several other threads, most of the damages are punitive, to punish Microsoft and to make them remember not to do it again. Also, it will probably turn into a class action suit.

    I wonder about such high punitive damages though. Why should the lawyers and plaintiffs receive all that? I'd like to see the judge give the majority of the punitive damages to some non-profit organization that helps minorities. (Assuming the plaintiffs win, but I doubt that they have a leg to stand on.)
  • And since he left Microsoft, doesn't that make his claim on discrimination moot, as he chose to leave?
    No, at least ont in the UK it doesn't. You can resign, and file for unfair dismissal, on the grounds that the company had left you no other viable option.
  • Experience doesn't always make up for a lack of discipline. The degree shows an aptitude for endurance and discipline and sticking through things even when they downright fucking suck (as most college days tend to be, academically speaking).

    A non-degreed candidate would need to have years of experience within a single company, to show the endurance. A lot of experience doing lots of little 2-5 month things then moving on to some other company rather than sticking around and at least supporting those who have to maintain what the programmer worked on does not impress me at all...

  • I really don't know what the deal is with certain minorities in the tech world...in my company, we don't even get that many black or hispanic (to pick an example...) programmer resumes (not that we know, since that's usually not advertised on the resume proper)...if we did, we didn't know, and race didn't factor into it when we pick who we'd like to interview. the resume itself didn't have the experience or skills we were looking for.

    Of course, even thinking back to college there weren't that many of either demographic (and i _hate_ that word, mind you) in my CS classes...tho one of the best programmers i knew during college was black. if i could get a hold of him now, i'd yell at him to get a resume over to my company...

    Now here at M$ we have a case where blacks were hired, and felt that they were being mistreated after getting the job...while i think its entirely possible that they weren't being treated any less favorably than others of their position -- I'd not be surprised to find that M$ treats ALL of its employees in that manner.

  • Easy to say 'move on' .. best of luck to anybody out there who can actually thinks they can find a professional IT job with less than 60 hour weeks.

    Not just easy to say - it's easy to do. I make it clear from my first contact with a prospective employer that, barring crisis, I do not work more than 40 hours in a week. I also make it clear that I know how to work such that those crises do not arise often - and that it's not how many hours one works, but the results one achieves that matters.

    The most productive programmer I ever met worked exactly 40 hours each week. He easily outcoded any other two people in the building. He showed up well-rested, took regular breaks, didn't socialize while in the building, and produced line after line of bug-free code. If you can work even half that well, you'll find all the work you can stand.

  • That's because blacks make better runners. Duh!
    This is a joke, right ? Just pokin' fun at some stereotypes, right ? How was this not moderated as flamebait ?
    Ever watch a big marathon? Or any of the longer Olympic footraces? East Africans tend to dominate. Racism in action, or tall people with long legs? You be the judge.

  • Speaking as ANOTHER Black Man I have to agree whole-heartedly with this poster. While I work in an industry only tangentially related to tech (a public policy/R&D thinktank) I too have experienced the second-guessing and the seemingly constant justifications I have to go through to get usually older caucasian staff to follow clear direction.

    I also do not agree with the $5 billion law suit. When are Americans going to realize that suing over everything is not the answer?

    Anyway. I would like to see some other remedies used to correct any localized abuses. Suggestions ?

    I doubt that Microsoft has a corporate wide racist policy. Just look at the varied ethnic makeup of their workforce. Such a policy would be unimplementable!!
  • "it never even crossed my mind that it might be an issue in the tech industry"

    Good God 'Taco, read any busy thread here at -1 and you'll see just how ugly people in this industry are.

    How can this surprise anyone? Let's see, we now have a lot of spoiled white fresh college grads who see themselves as being replaced by cheaper H1-B immigrants (many of whom will be working a lot longer hours) - you don't think those people are going to start fostering thoughts of "those dirty immigrants stealing our jobs"?

    Oh right, our workplaces are diverse because of all those Indian and Asian employees. Funny, in my last office building (shared by a multitude of dotcom companies), I saw one black guy. He was the janitor.

  • Um, Dennis Green (coach of the Vikings) is black.
  • 40 acres and a mule? I'd rather have 40,000 stock options...

    Gee, I dunno. Here in Silicon Valley, those 40 acres are worth about $35 mil. Whereas 40,000 options in, say, pets.com wouldn't cover the costs of feeding the mule.

    (I don't mean to make light of your argument -- I just thought that last part was kinda ironic.)

  • Two reasons...

    1. The "Reason we're telling the public" -- It's punitive damage. If Microsoft only gives the defendants the money they might have earned anyway, Microsoft really hasn't learned much of a lesson.

    Think of it this way... if you cheat somebody out of $50, you get caught, and the only punishment you receive is that you have to give the $50 back, would this really deter you from trying it again in the future? Probably not -- the worse-case scenario is that you have a net profit of zero. But if you had to give the $50 back, plus pay a fee of $200, then you might be more inclined not to try it again. It's the same idea with Microsoft -- except that it needs to be an amount of money that actually hurts them and makes them think, "Gosh. We'd better make sure this doesn't happen again." Hence the $5 billion.

    2. The "Real, secret reason" -- Microsoft's a big rich corporation. Juries like taking money from big rich corporations and giving them to normal people. And $5 billion dollars sure would be nice...
  • I can just picture their bald, white labcoat wearing lawyer hold his pinky up to his mouth as he exclaims "Five Billion Dollars"

    Finkployd
  • How do you go about proving that you were discriminated against based on race, creed, or religion? I mean there are thousands of reasons that someone might get passed over for a promotion. Yes, they are a very technically competent person and quite capable in their work, but their managerial skills just might suck!

    It's extremely difficult to legally prove discrimination occurred for a particular individual or a few individuals, for some of the reasons you mention. But that's not what this is about. This is a class action suit, that claims that Microsoft discriminates in general.

    That's also difficult to prove, but if the numbers given are correct, it looks like Microsoft employs less than half the percentage of blacks than the tech industry does as a whole. (2.6% vs 6.3%) That's not "proof", all by itself, but it's not at all unreasonable to look at those numbers and get suspicious.

    Given the size of Microsoft, it would be unreasonable to look at those numbers and not get suspicious. (Yes, the size of Microsoft matters. If this was a small company, the difference between those percentages would be less meaningful. Ask a statistician.)

  • To answer the question, in the tech industry, it's approx. 6.3%. So yes, it's a little lower.

    Compared to 2.6% of Microsoft's employees? Black employees are less than half as common at Microsoft than they are in the tech industry in general. Given that Microsoft employs ~22,000 people that's actually a pretty significant difference. (It would be less indicative if we were talking about a small company. Ask a statistician.) Is it proof? Nope. Is it suspicious? Definitely.

  • As a hispanic I have seen racism as well, but not in the tech industry© There are just to many people from India to be racist in this industry and many of them are better educated than the whites and 'blacks'©

    Oh and to be politically correct I think the term is "African Americans"©

    When I was going to school the African Americans CHOOSE to go to a different school© There were very few African Americans in my school, not cause they could not afford to go there, but because they choose to go somewhere else© I don't think that the tech industry is racist as I see MANY people of different races other than white's©

    Most African Americans I have meet don't want to go into computers, they go into humanities or business is the most common one©

    Oh please stop talking about how repressed you are and this and that© The Hebrews/Jews have had it MUCH worse than the African Americans ever had, and they don't go out killing each other in gang related warefare©

    If you really want to help the African Americans start by stop killing each other and work together as a people© Push for education, and push for more African Americans to go into the tech industry©

    The real reason that they are not here is that they do not want to be here©

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • Well, obviously that would be the rational way to approach it, but not the only way. The damages they seek are punitive. When I hear that word I hear "puny" but what it of course actually means is "punishment".

    In other words, their message to the court is "we're mad, and Microsoft has to be hit where it hurts. They're big and rich so we'd like, uh, 5 billion..."

    Translation: "We are shameless and greedy, so why not sue the biggest company around for lots and lots of cash"
  • And have you seen the salaries for those atheletes? If I was making that much money, I wouldn't be complaining

    really? I mean $150,000 is decent money but it's not going to set you up for life, especially if you only go pro for a few years.

    Not many athletes make those $500 million dollar paydays -- Jordan could buy a team if he wanted, no doubt, but your second-round draft pick will never see that kind of cash...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • They certainly can, and should.

    The only point I was making was that most pro athletes don't make obscene amounts of money, just the very top performers...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • Funny that with such a high number of athletes that are black, you have to search long and hard to find a head coach or team owner who's black. That's the kind of racism people generally talk about in sports -- its okay for them to PLAY well, we just don't want them up in the clubhouse...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • Um, maybe because Chuck D is a popular musician, and they're famous for being dumb as dirt?

    Most "autobiographies" (really biographies written by an unnamed writer) by famous people are crap. Those that are (1) written by the person who gets credit on the front of the book and (2) worth reading are few and far between.

    -jon

  • I've worked in the Toronto area for many years in various tech industries, but primarily the financial industry. I can honestly say that I did not experience any discrimination in terms of peoples' dealings with each other nor in terms of promotion (in my limited world of course). Toronto is a very multi-cultural city and I've worked with most racial and religious backgrounds as well as sexual orientations. And more often than not I have reported to women in management positions.

    The only place I've ever seen any discrimination is once you get to the very senior positions in these institutions (not necessarily in technology but overall). Then you'll find a predominance of over 50, white, males running the show.

    This is changing however as I look at the tech industry outside of financial institutions. A great many tech startups of 2 and 5 years ago are now large players in the area and the CEO's, CIO's, VP's, partners, etc. are of various racial backgrounds. They have gotten to where they are because the ideas and skills they could contribute were more important than the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs.

    Just my two cents.
  • Now I'm not normally one to defend Microsoft, the Ultimate Source of All That is Evil In the Computer Industry (TM), but give me a break.

    First of all, African Americans only make up 12% of the U.S. population, not the 50% or more some people seem to think, even though it might not seem that way if you either A) live in a big city (like I do) or B) watch lots of movies. Secondly, a large portion of those African Americans live in disadvantaged neighborhoods and don't think they have access to education.

    BTW--Notice that I didn't say they DON'T have access to education. The reader in doubt is referred to "The Ten Things You Can't Say in America" by Larry Elders, an excellent Libertarian African American gentleman who has a radio show out on the left coast.

    In any case, for whatever reasons, the college-educated African American is a rarer bird than one might think. You have to give credit to those who work hard and manage to get their degrees, because they are really a very small percentage of the overall population.

  • I imagine at Stanford you'd be welcomed with open arms, and not second guessed.

    As a Stanford graduate student, I would say, sadly, that that is not true. Certainly at the graduate level, at least, and probably at the undergraduate as well. People may be accepting once a person has demonstrated competence, but like the original poster hypothesis (and demonstrated for his particular case), a black student is likely to have a "prooving" period that the Asian student, for example, may not be subjected to. This is based only on my personal observations and gut feeling, of course, as I've never discussed it with the black students in any of my engineering classes.

    In fact, at Stanford Graduate engineering schools, american students seem to be the minority. These days, most of the students come from countries other than the U.S. I'd say (as a guess) roughly 75% of the students are from China, Taiwan, India, Isreal, Europe, etc. The few black students I have met personally are from African countries, not the U.S. I've been in classes of 30 or more students, where I was the ONLY U.S. student!

    I point his out to show that at some schools at least, it is hard to make comparisons of student population ethnicities, withn the surrounding workplace. I assume, with the economy around here being so good, many U.S. students are NOT going to graduate school (since they can make lots of money anyway); the undergrad populations seems to have many more U.S students.

    Anyway, my point is that I'd have to agree with the original poster; black students are a minority here, and accepting one as an equal in a group project, for example, won't be as automatic as, say, another asian student.

    In fact, as another anecdotal data point, having traveled to South East Asia, and growing up in areas of large asian populations (Hawaii and the Bay Area), I can say that many asians have severe prejudices towards blacks (sorry for the flamebait; my comment implies mainly those who are non-U.S. born). In Thailand, I was asked a couple times by locals I met if black people are all violent, poor, etc. (in the U.S.), or whether I was afraid to live with black people. It seems that having only the U.S. media to go on, that is what many of them perceive. Ironically, that was just before Mike Tyson bit Evander's ear, and it was splashed across the papers throughout the world. I can assume some of these attitudes carry over with all the non-U.S. students (even though they are, without question, extremely intelligent and well educated)

  • I think there is a more serious point to be made here.

    While other minority groups (japanese/various asian/indians/bangladorians) are becoming well represented in the CS field, this has not cut over to the african american minority.

    In my mind, affirmitive action has hurt this field because it gets people entry level jobs, without forcing them to learn the fundamentals, thus restricting them from rocking as a programer/sys-admin whatever.

    We need more people with thoose kind of skills. Is it becaue people don't usually envision a african american programmer the reason why there are not alot? Or is it some other demographic trend?

    Before we judge microsoft, lets find out what really happened. The amount asked for is extremly absurd, but adjusting the amount of money by a factor of 100 (5 million instead of 5 billion) is probibly in range. Each person probably walks away with 10x there salary.

    This also brings into question when you can fire people. If you are afraid to fire a guy because of his ethnic minority status, they will never hire him in the first place.
  • But if "you'll get the same kind of cross section of people there that you get anywhere", then you should get the same proportion of blacks that you'll get anywhere. And that doesn't appear to be the case.
  • Racism?! I find that hard to believe!

    Now intelligencism....?

  • >> It seems that the players will be >= 80% black, but certain roles are almost always white, quaterbacks, are almost always white, coachs seem to be nearly 95% white. owners are probably 100% white.

    Tell that to Jordan, Isaiah, Magic, Culpepper, King, Banks, Batch, Cunningham, Moon...

    >>unfortantly, there arn't to many rich black folks out there.. huh, does this sound racist?, naww, must be my white liberal guilt

    no.... its your lack of understanding that in black culture, its more important to play ball, wear the right shoes, and get phat props than to study, work hard, learn to code, build networks, read O'Riley books or other Oreo type things.

    Its more important to "be real" than to "act white" for many young blacks.

    Fortunately, that stereotype is starting to break down... the kinds of today of all races are starting to see that the mantra of their predesessors is bogus, that its not "selling out" to not gang bang, make babies at 14, and instead stay in school, work hard, and be responsible.

    No thanks to the likes of Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farakhan...
  • I'd not be surprised to find that M$ treats ALL of its employees in that manner.

    Yeah... I'm waiting to see the defense on this...

    MSLawyer: "Your honor, I am prepaired to show that Microsoft does not descriminate against Blacks. In fact Microsoft discriminates against all its low level employees equally. In FACT, we have recently been involved in a class action suit to this end, where it was proven that Microsoft treats its employees as scum. In view of these facts I move that the court immediately dissmiss these absurd charges."

    Judge: "So your saying that because Microsoft treats all of its employees equally as garbage, there is no discrimination based on colour?"

    MSLawyer: "Yes your honor."

    Judge: "I am ready to render a summary judgement against the Defendent based on the grounds of Absurd Stupidity."
  • <p>I fit many of the qualifyers</p>
    <ol>
    <li>I live in a poorer neighborhood.</li>
    <li>I have undereducated parents.</li>
    <li>I go to public high school.</li>
    </ol>
    <p>Does this mean I am less likely to go to college? And what do these factors have to do with racism?</p>
  • "People suing over job discrimination can sue for actual damages (lost wages, promotion opportunities, backpay, etc"

    So they each could have made $714 million dollars if MS wasn't so racist? Hope they can prove that. If I had 100 lifetimes I doubt I would make that much over all of them combined.

  • "If you are forced to work a 60 hour week, you should go seek employment elsewhere"

    Easy to say 'move on' .. best of luck to anybody out there who can actually thinks they can find a professional IT job with less than 60 hour weeks.

  • I think you've been lucky. I think most employers, if they have a decent programmer, will try to get as many hours out of that as possible. I could also only work 40-hour weeks if I was just left to do my work, and I would do a good job. But my boss has a "last-minute" attitude. So if delivery is still a few months away, he seems to think "theres still plenty of time" and comes up with a bunch of other things for me to do, that are suddenly higher priority.

    I think most employers in the engineering/programming world are like this, but then, I can only speak from experience and what I've heard from others.

  • Sorry, I misunderstood. My mistake. Who gets the money awarded from punitive damages?


  • I think their point is to have punishment microsoft feels, not that they lost 5 billion because of microsoft. Just like car manufacturers have to pay kazziollons for their mistakes.
    If they would ask for somthing like 50 million, It would be just a scratch in their quarterly report.
  • ok - i'll bite.

    I meant 'cross section' as it attitudes, not race. Should women be suing Microsoft (and any other tech company for that matter) because the percentages don't match up with the general population? Less women go into tech than men, it's just a fact. It isn't Microsofts fault (My university had TONS of scholarships that were ONLY for women to try to get them into tech, but the numbers were still way low).

    There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.
    j
  • It seems the general consensus among white, male tech workers is that they belong in the industry. If they are up for a promotion against an equally skilled minority, of COURSE they should get the promotion, because they're automatically more skilled. Because the majority of tech managers are ALSO white, this attitude is perpetuated.

    Let's set the record straight: My racial group does not choose to be less educated...we simply don't always have access to the same resources growing up as whites. That can't possibly be understood by someone who's never attended public school in a major city (I'm from Detroit). I took freshman EECS with 3 hundred white guys that had been taking C classes since the 9th grade, and the only exposure I'd had to any form of high-level programming was self-taught. Poor K-12 education == Poor SAT/ACT!= quality higher education. This uneven playing field is the reason for the small numbers of us in the tech industry.


    First you complain that racism comes from white people's misguided assumptions, then you argue why those assumptions are true. I don't get the promotion because they think I'm not as good. That's wrong. I'm not as good because I didn't have enough of a chance!!

    I'm American Indian. My race has no political power and almost no representation anywhere other than Alchoholics Anonymous meetings. In high school I was ostracized by both white and black groups, and that didn't leave much to choose from. Yes, I'm discriminated against. My name went to the top of most companies hiring list since my race looks very good on their quotas.

    Yes, that's right quotas. All the race mongers claim that no one wants to enforce quotas, it being a diry word and all, but here we see the lawyers using a percentage of workforce in a court case. Companies see this and realize that if they are to survive such lawsuits they have to make sure that they have that percentage in the workforce. Hence, quotas.

    I went to a 'historically black college'. It was the most pathetic excuse for an educational institution that I had attended (I attended 4 post high schools institutions). Grades were given out, and professors fired for failing students that deserved it. Incompetent 'teachers' were retained because they had once been tight with Martin Luther King. Academic standards were a joke. But everyone who graduated got a job. Why? A black man with a degree is a valuable commodity. They may not ever be promoted, but they are on the roles and help to ensure that the company has a shield against $5B lawsuits.

    This is the reason that 'white, male tech workers' feel 'they're automatically more skilled'. They don't know you, but they know the group that you identify yourself with. Since birds of a feather flock together, they assume that you are as pathetic as a large percentage of the people I graduated with. The assumption is that you were given the job to meet a percentage.

    If you don't want to be associated with these people, do like I do and lie about your race...a different lie each time someone ask...and don't ever tell the truth...and act like you're upset if someone guesses the truth...keep them guessing, and make sure that they know that you are lying. The point being that you don't let anyone associate you with anyone but yourself. Eventually no one will care about what you are and will start concentrating on who you are.

  • IANAL, but from what I gather from my Law TV Shows, Punitive damages have to be enough to actually PUNISH the company. $1M is not enough to punish Microsoft ... the company as a whole is too rich. $5B sounds high to me, maybe $1B is good enough, but if the intended effect is to punish the actions of the company, than the dollar amount is supposed to make people cringe.

    That said, aren't damages assigned by the JURY? It's up to them to decide damages, not the plaintiffs. Plus, the Judge can set aside the judgement in favor of a lower amount if need be.

  • Of course, as a pasty white boy I probably wouldn't even notice even though I've always thought of the internet as colorblind.

    The tech-industry is NOT just the Internet. There are a lot of sectors in the tech-industry, and the internet is a fairly small part of it. Everyone seems to have the opinion that if you're high-tech, that means you're a dot.com, and that's just not accurate.

    That's probably why the NASDAQ as a whole tanks when a dot.com goes under, even thought many companies in the exchange don't do "business" over the internet.

    Of course, I wouldn't expect a pasty white boy to know the difference. :)

  • The way people argue about affirmitive action seems to be things would be great if we had affirmitive action or things would be great if we had NO affirmitive action.

    I have news for you: things will suck either way and innocent people will get shafted either way.

    Postulate 1 in this argument should be: there's not perfect solution to long term, systematic and gross societal injustice.

    The best philosophical formulation of the concept of "fairness" I've seen is: imagine that we are playing a role game and we're sitting down to agree to the ground rules governing each role. A system of rules if fair if you would agree to them a prior not knowing which role you are going to play. Everybody's position on this topic is infected by their knowledge of which role they get.

    I think that there is an argument for some degree of affirmitive action to be in place, recognizing that the full weight of the historical injustice done to blacks can never be adequately adressed, and that at some point we must put the issue behind us.

  • by dangermouse (2242) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @11:43AM (#531089) Homepage
    For Christ's sake, pull your head out of your copy of _Fountainhead_ and look around at the world every once in a while. What seems logical from your perfectly idealized libertarian happy-happy-capitalist viewpoint doesn't necessarily fly in the real world.

    Why is there such a large percentage of you people on Slashdot? Is it due to the abnormally large population of kids who, because they're somewhat intelligent, believe they're superior to most of their peers and therefore pretty much capabable of figuring out How Things Work without any real experience?

    Companies can be racist, corporations can be evil, freeing the market is not always a good idea, and all this shit has been proven again and again throughout the history of capitalism and in the experience of damn near everyone who's spent some time outside of school. To deny or ignore such realities is dangerously arrogant.

    Apologies for the flame, and for the fact that it had to be in reply to your post... I'm just sick of this economic darwinist crap. I was under the impression that we'd stopped using it as justification (or method of denial) of social problems something like a hundred years ago. It disappoints me that this seems not to be the case.
  • by Amphigory (2375) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @12:57PM (#531090) Homepage
    Once upon a time, I received a "new employee orientation" from a black man. Basically, I followed him around like a puppy dog for about two weeks. I noticed something: he knew almost all the black people in the (very large) company. When he socialized with other employees, it was black employees. Further, he was able to move up from the mail room to a mid-level SA by exploiting this connection to black managers.

    It was not that he was rude to white employees -- he just hung around with black employees. All the time.

    Now, if a white person were to do the same, he would be labeled as racist. Especially, he would be culpable for exploiting his social relationships with white managers to gain standing. I don't claim to know how to fight this -- or even if it should be fought. I just observe the fact that black people do tend, as you pointed out, to socialize exclusively with other black people. And that they tend to exploit those social connections just as white people exploit theres.

    --

  • by jht (5006) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:20AM (#531091) Homepage Journal
    I think this case is a load of bunk, based on my experience and the examples I've seen in the industry (and Microsoft has historically been more enlightened than most - they just want big brains and not much more). What some people forget is that being qualified doesn't mean you get the job - you get it if you're the _most_ qualified. And if there's always someone better qualified than you, you never get the job. That's when you leave to get onto some other company's track - and hope the other company has people you can in turn leapfrog. When I've hired in the past (as I do at my current company, and did at my past employer), I could care less about race, gender, or sexual preference. I look for the following attributes:

    1: Are their skills appropriate for the job?
    2: Are their salary expectations in line with what I can pay, and am willing to pay?
    3: Do they have the right amount of experience for the job?
    4: Do they have a personality that will enable them to get along with their prospective co-workers on the "team"?

    As tie-breakers, I'll look at things like certifications (do they have any, and are they relevant). I don't care about race or gender - send me people that can do the job and they'll get the job, assuming they're the best candidate. Period. And, excepting some troglodytes who are, I'm sure, in some companies, the bulk of IT hiring meets that standard.

    Over the years, I've hired white, black, and hispanic, men and women, gay and straight. And there would almost certainly have been more categories represented in that list if I'd had them available to choose from - I've had good people work for me in all those categories! I'd have been an idiot and I'd be doing my company a disservice if I excluded any potentially good employee on the basis of race, or any other irrelevant factor that doesn't affect job performance.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • by Bearpaw (13080) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @01:04PM (#531092)
    And if they're racist, you'd expect them to say what? "Get out of here, you uppity nigger, and leave us alone"?

    Racism isn't always as obvious as it is on made-for-TV movies. (Sometimes, unfortunately, it is that obvious, but usually it's a lot more subtle.)

  • by kevlar (13509) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:44AM (#531093)
    The tech industry cannot afford to be racist in any fasion since 75% of any tech company's employees are of some non-european ethnic origin.
  • by Webmonger (24302) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @02:36PM (#531094) Homepage
    Nope. It's true. If x>y and z>0 then zx/100>zy/100. It's mathmatically inescapable.
    x=percentage of whites at MS
    y=percentage of whites in general population
    z=percentage of whites who are white supremecists
    zx/100=percentage of white supremecists at MS
    zy/100=percentage of white supremecists in general population

    You'll note that one of the assumptions is that the percentage of whites who are white supremecists remains constant. You can't disprove the statement by saying the number of klansmen may not remain constant, because the statement doesn't apply to that situation.

    Any other "factors" that affect the mix of attitudes at Microsoft simply demonstrate my point-- that it's ludicrous to assert that a cross section of Microsoft is the same as a cross section of the general population. For one thing, there are probably fewer technophobes there than in the general population. And fewer people over 65. And. . .
  • by Webmonger (24302) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @11:49AM (#531095) Homepage
    I know what you meant, but you can't have it both ways. Either the population of Microsoft is just like the general population, or it's not.

    In general, your attitudes can be influenced by your background, including economic status, religion, and race. Therefore, if there are fewer blacks at Microsoft, the mix of attitudes will be different too.

    For example, very few blacks are white supremecists. If there are more whites at Microsoft than in the general population, and the percentace of whites who are white supremecists remains constant, there will be more white supremecists at Microsoft than in the general population.

    Therefore, the racial mix DOES affect the mix of attitudes. By your own admission, the racial mix at Microsoft differs from that of the general population.

    And therefore the cross section of attitudes at Microsoft is different from the cross section of attitudes in the general population.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @11:58AM (#531096)
    I think you make a bit much of a leap though when you think the look of surprise means they thought of you as less competent.

    I myself had a black CS friend in college, and he was really intelligent and great to work with. However, if I'd been in your group you probably would have seen a simlar look of surprize on my face - not becuase I thought you were less competent, but simply because people I talk with via e-mail or other electronic means always have a simply "likley profile" built up in my head and if it's different then I have to take a moment to readjust. It doesn't mean I would think less of the person, especially if I'd already worked with them...

    I'll admit there are probably people who would react just as you said. But given how many people in the CS field are from various cultures (chinese, japanese, indian, etc.) I don't see how you could really go all that far in the computer field without being pretty open to people that differ from yourself.

  • by jthm (31469) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @11:48AM (#531097)
    The race thing drove me into a 5 threshold and cured me of my /. addiction. Big ups Taco, I commend your candidness and honesty.

    Here's something that I found to be very interesting. It is an article by a caucasian professor of journalism at UT.

    WHITE PRIVILEGE SHAPES THE U.S.

    Robert Jensen
    Department of Journalism
    University of Texas
    Austin, TX 78712
    work: (512) 471-1990
    rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu

    copyright Robert William Jensen 1998
    first appeared in the Baltimore Sun, July 19, 1998

    by Robert Jensen

    Here's what white privilege sounds like:

    I am sitting in my University of Texas office, talking to a very bright and very conservative white student about affirmative action in college admissions, which he opposes and I support.

    The student says he wants a level playing field with no unearned advantages for anyone. I ask him whether he thinks that in the United States being white has advantages. Have either of us, I ask, ever benefited from being white in a world run mostly by white people? Yes, he concedes, there is something real and tangible we could call white privilege.

    So, if we live in a world of white privilege--unearned white privilege--how does that affect your notion of a level playing field? I ask.

    He paused for a moment and said, "That really doesn't matter."

    That statement, I suggested to him, reveals the ultimate white privilege: the privilege to acknowledge you have unearned privilege but ignore what it means.

    That exchange led me to rethink the way I talk about race and racism with students. It drove home to me the importance of confronting the dirty secret that we white people carry around with us everyday: In a world of white privilege, some of what we have is unearned. I think much of both the fear and anger that comes up around discussions of affirmative action has its roots in that secret. So these days, my goal is to talk openly and honestly about white supremacy and white privilege.

    White privilege, like any social phenomenon, is complex. In a white supremacist culture, all white people have privilege, whether or not they are overtly racist themselves. There are general patterns, but such privilege plays out differently depending on context and other aspects of one's identity (in my case, being male gives me other kinds of privilege). Rather than try to tell others how white privilege has played out in their lives, I talk about how it has affected me.

    I am as white as white gets in this country. I am of northern European heritage and I was raised in North Dakota, one of the whitest states in the country. I grew up in a virtually all-white world surrounded by racism, both personal and institutional. Because I didn't live near a reservation, I didn't even have exposure to the state's only numerically significant non-white population, American Indians.

    I have struggled to resist that racist training and the ongoing racism of my culture. I like to think I have changed, even though I routinely trip over the lingering effects of that internalized racism and the institutional racism around me. But no matter how much I "fix" myself, one thing never changes--I walk through the world with white privilege.

    What does that mean? Perhaps most importantly, when I seek admission to a university, apply for a job, or hunt for an apartment, I don't look threatening. Almost all of the people evaluating me for those things look like me--they are white. They see in me a reflection of themselves, and in a racist world that is an advantage. I smile. I am white. I am one of them. I am not dangerous. Even when I voice critical opinions, I am cut some slack. After all, I'm white.

    My flaws also are more easily forgiven because I am white. Some complain that affirmative action has meant the university is saddled with mediocre minority professors. I have no doubt there are minority faculty who are mediocre, though I don't know very many. As Henry Louis Gates Jr. once pointed out, if affirmative action policies were in place for the next hundred years, it's possible that at the end of that time the university could have as many mediocre minority professors as it has mediocre white professors. That isn't meant as an insult to anyone, but is a simple observation that white privilege has meant that scores of second-rate white professors have slid through the system because their flaws were overlooked out of solidarity based on race, as well as on gender, class and ideology.

    Some people resist the assertions that the United States is still a bitterly racist society and that the racism has real effects on real people. But white folks have long cut other white folks a break. I know, because I am one of them.

    I am not a genius--as I like to say, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I have been teaching full-time for six years, and I've published a reasonable amount of scholarship. Some of it is the unexceptional stuff one churns out to get tenure, and some of it, I would argue, actually is worth reading. I work hard, and I like to think that I'm a fairly decent teacher. Every once in awhile, I leave my office at the end of the day feeling like I really accomplished something. When I cash my paycheck, I don't feel guilty.

    But, all that said, I know I did not get where I am by merit alone. I benefited from, among other things, white privilege. That doesn't mean that I don't deserve my job, or that if I weren't white I would never have gotten the job. It means simply that all through my life, I have soaked up benefits for being white. I grew up in fertile farm country taken by force from non-white indigenous people. I was educated in a well-funded, virtually all-white public school system in which I learned that white people like me made this country great. There I also was taught a variety of skills, including how to take standardized tests written by and for white people.

    All my life I have been hired for jobs by white people. I was accepted for graduate school by white people. And I was hired for a teaching position at the predominantly white University of Texas, which had a white president, in a college headed by a white dean and in a department with a white chairman that at the time had one non-white tenured professor.

    There certainly is individual variation in experience. Some white people have had it easier than me, probably because they came from wealthy families that gave them even more privilege. Some white people have had it tougher than me because they came from poorer families. White women face discrimination I will never know. But, in the end, white people all have drawn on white privilege somewhere in their lives.

    Like anyone, I have overcome certain hardships in my life. I have worked hard to get where I am, and I work hard to stay there. But to feel good about myself and my work, I do not have to believe that "merit," as defined by white people in a white country, alone got me here. I can acknowledge that in addition to all that hard work, I got a significant boost from white privilege, which continues to protect me every day of my life from certain hardships.

    At one time in my life, I would not have been able to say that, because I needed to believe that my success in life was due solely to my individual talent and effort. I saw myself as the heroic American, the rugged individualist. I was so deeply seduced by the culture's mythology that I couldn't see the fear that was binding me to those myths. Like all white Americans, I was living with the fear that maybe I didn't really deserve my success, that maybe luck and privilege had more to do with it than brains and hard work. I was afraid I wasn't heroic or rugged, that I wasn't special.

    I let go of some of that fear when I realized that, indeed, I wasn't special, but that I was still me. What I do well, I still can take pride in, even when I know that the rules under which I work in are stacked in my benefit. I believe that until we let go of the fiction that people have complete control over their fate--that we can will ourselves to be anything we choose--then we will live with that fear. Yes, we should all dream big and pursue our dreams and not let anyone or anything stop us. But we all are the product both of what we will ourselves to be and what the society in which we live lets us be.

    White privilege is not something I get to decide whether or not I want to keep. Every time I walk into a store at the same time as a black man and the security guard follows him and leaves me alone to shop, I am benefiting from white privilege. There is not space here to list all the ways in which white privilege plays out in our daily lives, but it is clear that I will carry this privilege with me until the day white supremacy is erased from this society.

    Frankly, I don't think I will live to see that day; I am realistic about the scope of the task. However, I continue to have hope, to believe in the creative power of human beings to engage the world honestly and act morally. A first step for white people, I think, is to not be afraid to admit that we have benefited from white privilege. It doesn't mean we are frauds who have no claim to our success. It means we face a choice about what we do with our success.

    Jensen is a professor in the Department of Journalism in the University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu.

  • by devphil (51341) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @02:17PM (#531098) Homepage


    How is it I can submit this article as the news is breaking and it's rejected, but once it's old news /. will post it? Anyhow...

    They read my resume and probably talk to me on the phone, but you can see a look of surprise in many an interviewer's eyes when his next applicant is a 6 foot tall black guy.

    This is one of the many reasons I love open source collaboration over the net. None of us have any idea whether each other is white, black, purple, or -- strictly speaking -- even from the same planet. You are judged purely on how you present yourself, and in email that laregly equates to how much time you spend proofreading your messages. :-)

    It's much harder to be racist when everybody else is only seen as two-color bitmapped text, and you chose those colors...

  • by Coward, Anonymous (55185) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @11:06AM (#531099)
    The problem with this lawsuit is that it states that microsoft as a _company_ has a corporate policy of discrimination against blacks. This lawsuit isn't saying "there are some bad apples at MS" or "all the people we had to deal with were racist" - it says that "microsoft as a company is run by a secret good old boy network of black-hating people that turn otherwise unbiased managers into agents of the white devil".

    I don't think the lawsuit says that. If there are some bad apples at Microsoft, Microsoft is responsible for it. If a rogue Microsoft employee put some code into the next version of Word which would at random times replace every other word in all your documents with the word "nigger", Microsoft would be responsible for this and would have to pay out on all the lawsuits brought against it even though it was a single person who did this and not a company policy.
  • by jon_c (100593) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:22AM (#531100) Homepage

    Uh, you must mean reverse discrimination right? Clearly there are no absence of blacks in most of the major sports (except for ice hockey). I'm not trying to be a bigot, but in sports I think it's almost detrimental to be white nowadays


    I'm a dev, and don't play sports. but from time to time i watch a game of football or basketball (mainly to feel somewhat masculene). It seems that the players will be >= 80% black, but certain roles are almost always white, quaterbacks, are almost always white, coachs seem to be nearly 95% white. owners are probably 100% white.

    I don't know if it's hard for a black man to get a job doing one of those roles, for a black man to be an owner of a major sports team he would have to be pretty damm rich, and unfortantly, there arn't to many rich black folks out there.. huh, does this sound racist?, naww, must be my white liberal guilt.

    -Jon
  • by john@iastate.edu (113202) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:04AM (#531101) Homepage
    If they are up for a promotion against an equally skilled minority, of COURSE they should get the promotion, because they're automatically more skilled.

    I think you mistake arrogance for racism. When I'm up for a promotion or whatever, I always assume I'm the more skilled, it wouldn't matter if my competition was Richie, Pike, and Torvalds. And I expect everyone else around me to believe the same thing about them.

    P.S. When I (poor white trailer trash) took freshman engineering, I had zero, zippo, nada experience with a computer. So don't just assume Joe White Boy had a privileged upbringing, either. Some of us worked our asses off too.

  • by RobFlynn (127703) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:21AM (#531102)
    This reminds me of an issue with football coaches a while back. There were complaints that there weren't enough coaches of a certain race and that more should be hired.

    This made me mad. My race as well as the race of the coaches doesn't matter. It's a qualification issue. If the coach of the other race was more qualified then he would have been hired. It's as simple as that.

    Tell me this:
    If you're on a plane flight would you want your pilot to have been hired because he/she was more qualified or because he was a minority in the field and they thought they should balance everything out? I'd pick qualification _ANYDAY_.

    The hiring based on race is racism of another form -- which is exactly what they're trying to stomp out. It seems like a vicious circle to me.

    This kind of relates to my previous post. At my current job we have many races. We have "minorities" and "non-minorities". I know for a fact that everyone here was hired because they were damn good in their field -- not because they needed to "balance" things out.

    Anyway, this may have been a totally unrelated rambling. I just wanted to vent some steam. Hopefully no one was offended. I don't see how you could be but hey -- no offense was meant if you were :).



    ---
    Rob Flynn
  • by Electric Angst (138229) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:28AM (#531103)
    but in sports I think it's almost detrimental to be white nowadays

    Yea, it really sucks to be white and in the sports industry right now. After all, that means that you're probably an agent, manager, or executive, making a whole ton of money and not taking any physical risk. Oh, and don't forget how you don't have to worry about trying to make enough money to support you for your entire life during its short, physical peak.

    It's just horrible...

    So, either you're a clever troll, or a total idiot...


    --
  • by ZZane (144066) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:20AM (#531104)
    It seems the general consensus among white, male tech workers is that they belong in the industry. If they are up for a promotion against an equally skilled minority, of COURSE they should get the promotion, because they're automatically more skilled. Because the majority of tech managers are ALSO white, this attitude is perpetuated.

    This comment is just as racist as the attitude you're trying to portray. Any generalization about a race is racist. (Well except maybe "All white people or white." etc. :) As someone else mentioned, the attitude generally is 'I'm the best there is.' not 'I'm better than all those [insert race here] people.' Arrogance is indeed rampant in this industry (and in most knowledge based industries).

    I don't deny that racism exists in this industry, it exists in EVERY industry to some degree. Guess what, racism (in general) will probably never completely go away. Someone will always find a reason to hate another group of people (be it race, country or what-not). I do believe people that are more commonly victims of racism have a tendancy to become overly sensitive though.

    If you're competing for a job with 5 other white people and you feel you're the best one for the job and you don't get it would your first assumption be that you didn't get the job because you're black? Perphaps your own perceptions of your skills and the skills of other is skewed (it usually is, even mine I'm sure). Perhaps you didn't get the job because the other guy was married and had kids and you were single so he needed the job more (I've been on the shit end of the stick on that one). My point is, racism is only one of a large number of reasons why you could be passed over for a promotion that you think you should've gotten.

    -Zane
  • by Snocone (158524) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @11:18AM (#531105) Homepage
    You're close -- 49% white in the Lower Mainland overall, but less in Vancouver city itself. And our population is quite more strikingly diverse than you portray, not to mention that your percentages add up to 110%. However, blacks don't even register statistically in any part of the province. Here's some percentages from the Sun's election coverage a couple months back:

    Vancouver Kingsway has the largest non-white population, with 63.4 per cent of residents visible minorities. Vancouver South-Burnaby comes second with 56.2 per cent. Not surprisingly, Kingsway also has the highest percentage of residents who have a mother tongue other than English -- 62.2 per cent.

    The least diverse riding in the region is Fraser Valley, where only 5.2 per cent of residents are non-white. The second-least diverse is South Surrey-White Rock-Langley, where only six per cent of residents are a member of a visible minority.

    While Kingsway has a higher proportion of minorities, South-Burnaby is be the most diverse riding in the region. It boasts a large Chinese (30.9 per cent), Indo-Canadian (13.1 per cent) and Filipino (3.6 per cent) population. But it also has smaller, but still significant, groups of Korean, Japanese, Southeast Asian and Latin American residents -- all making up between one and two per cent of voters.

    In addition to having the most minorities over all, Vancouver Kingsway also has the largest Chinese population in the region, with 39.7 per cent of residents being Chinese.

    Richmond is second with 34.1 per cent.

    Surrey Central has the largest population of Indo-Canadians with 21.3 per cent identifying themselves to census takers as South Asian. Surrey North is second with 16.6 per cent.

    North Vancouver has the largest proportion of Arabs (3.3 per cent), Vancouver Kingsway has the most Filipinos (5.7 per cent) and Vancouver East has the highest number of aboriginals (5.6 per cent)
  • by buzzini (177741) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @01:29PM (#531106)
    Well, Microsoft's attrition rate (9.6%) is about half the industry average (18.1%), so I think that speaks for itself.
  • by buzzini (177741) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:25AM (#531107)
    I've been a low-level employee at MS and we were treated like gold. Not only was the environment laid back (come and go as you please, wear whatever you want, spontaneous water-gun fights), but they bought dinner for us all the time, had Friday Fests (music, food, free beer), threw huge parties for us, gave us cool stuff, planned skiing trips, etc. My managers were both reasonable and brilliant (direct manager was a top Cornell CS grad, his manager was a top MIT CS grad) and minorities were very well represented. The organization is also very flat, so I felt like I could have emailed almost anyone above me (our VP, for instance) and it would be read and responded to. I think that's the general experience of MS employees that work in the product groups.
  • by Fervent (178271) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:14AM (#531108)
    I've been reading Chuck D's autobiography (He is smart as hell) and he talks a lot about racism in the sports and music industries...

    Uh, you must mean reverse discrimination right? Clearly there are no absence of blacks in most of the major sports (except for ice hockey). I'm not trying to be a bigot, but in sports I think it's almost detrimental to be white nowadays.

  • by tswinzig (210999) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @02:09PM (#531109) Journal
    I don't understand the American legal system when it comes to suing people and companies. It seems like you can sue for any amount of money that you like!

    True. We should implement a libertarian system, where people that sue a company or a person, and lose, have to pay the legal fees for the other party.

    BAM! A lot less frivolous lawsuits when you have to think real hard about whether you have a legitimate complaint.
  • by imipak (254310) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @12:07PM (#531110) Journal
    Disclaimer: white English male. Grew up in a part of the UK with literally NO ethnic minorities at all (in fact I was the closest thing - I got beaten up for having an accent from the south east, cos that was the West.)

    I'm saddened but not really surprised by the general response of most here, "rascism? Of course not, it's just that very few black people apply for tech jobs / have the qualificiations / yadda yadda yadda". Guess some of you should have bothered to try learning something from the humanities people. Yes, some of sociology is real science too.

    Western society is intrinsically rascist, mostly for historical reasons. How anyone in the UK or US could deny it when white people are so much better off across the board (income, life expectancy, social class, education, victims of crime, you name it.) Either society is set up to subtly (or none-to-subtly) discriminate against people on the basis of their skin colour, or black people are intrinsically more stupid / violent / criminal / unhealthy. Which I don't think (I really hope) no-one here actually consciously believes.)

    In the last year my brother married Ghanaian woman and they have just had a beautiful baby girl. I've also just started work at a company with a black CEO. (Yes, man-in-black, he has a public school (ie, expensive fee-paying here in the UK) accent.) Watching people getting introduced to either of these two without having been explicitly told 'oh, by the way, s/he's black" has been rather...educational. And rather depressing.

    Looking on the bright side: in Western Europe, where we haven't quite the same historical relationship with black people and slavery (yeah yeah, Liverpool and Bristol were built with slave trade blood money, but we never had millions of black slaves *here*) -- there surely is rascism here but (I hope) through hard work & educational efforts & not least legal sanction (like: not letting the police get away with it when yet-another black suspect accidentally falls down some stairs in a policestation and dies on the floor of a cell) -- things are getting better, for black AND white.

    Final word for the white folks here who really believe they're too smart to be rascist. How do you think you can grow up in a rascist society and NOT absorb ANY of those attitudes? I know I did. Without lacerating oneself with liberal guilt, it's good to look for the speck in your own eye before denying there's a beam in Microsoft's (or society's at large.)
    --
    If the good lord had meant me to live in Los Angeles

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:18AM (#531111)
    Excuse me folks, but isn't every worker, black and white, working in the IT field
    (and especially larger companies like, oh, say, Microsoft) treated like a slave? 60+ hour work weeks, oppressive management structure, morons getting promoted
    over vastly more skilled and competent co-workers ... like, welcome to the real world!
  • by Sabalon (1684) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:30AM (#531112)
    Look here for some more info:
    http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/Business/Microsoft_N ews/ [yahoo.com].

    To answer the question, in the tech industry, it's approx. 6.3%. So yes, it's a little lower.
    How many are Indian? How many are Asian? How many are White?
  • by acroyear (5882) <jws-slashdot@javaclientcookbook.net> on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:10AM (#531113) Homepage Journal
    I find that quite a few of their complaints aren't discrimination based on color...they're things that Microsoft does to ALL of their low-level employees. We don't call them Microserfs for nothing, you know...
  • by jeff.paulsen (6195) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:48AM (#531114)
    Excuse me folks, but isn't every worker, black and white, working in the IT field (and especially larger companies like, oh, say, Microsoft) treated like a slave? 60+ hour work weeks, oppressive management structure, morons getting promoted over vastly more skilled and competent co-workers ... like, welcome to the real world!

    Nobody here feels like a slave. None of the MSFT people I've talked to feels like a slave - especially not those who have made millions there.

    If you are forced to work a 60 hour week, you should go seek employment elsewhere. If you are oppressed by your manager, passed over for promotion, etc, move on. If you aren't happy, take your skills elsewhere. There are lots and lots of places that need competent people, will treat them right, and pay them well.

  • by calumr (175014) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:14AM (#531115)
    How can 7 people justify getting $5 billion?

    If you think about it, its like saying that Microsoft have made $5 billion out of these people, and that these people have lost $5 billion because of Microsoft. Maybe these are exceptionally talented individuals, but surely they should only ask for how much they have actually lost?

  • by nosilA (8112) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:35AM (#531116)
    I'm not black, but I am a female, which in the tech industry may as well be the same. I've definitely experienced sexism on all levels. One thing I have noticed: If there is 1 {insert group here} person, you judge that person on their abilities. If there a half dozen, and they tend to socialize with each other, they are treated based on the stereotype.

    I do not doubt for a second that you have been discriminated against, however the best way to fight discrimination is to not let people think of you as a race/gender/religion but as an individual. Distinguish yourself. Most of my friends are white or indian guys. They talk about "stupid females who got into CS at CMU based on gender," but they don't lump me into that group. Period.

    At the risk of sounding racist, I have noticed something about black people in particular, more than indians, chinese, or females, they tend to associate exclusively with members of their race. They are asking to be treated "the same." People who form cliques are not liked by those outside the clique. Think back to high school. Did you like the "popular" people? Did you think all "popular" people were dumb?

    It's hard being a female (and I'm sure as bad if not worse being black) in the tech industry, but filing class action lawsuits which lump you back into the same group will do nothing to help.

    -Alison
  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @11:25AM (#531117)
    I dunno about Microsoft, but the very large tech company I work for has so few blacks and hispanics that it's actually surprising to run into one. There are plenty of Indians and various other Asian ethnicities, but it's still predominantly white and male.

    To be fair to Microsoft, I don't think this is necessarily indicative of a racist policy at Microsoft. MS may well hire qualified applicants irrespective of race. What it does indicate is a societal problem. I don't know enough black people to have a particularly detailed picture of the challenges they face, but I know enough women to know that from grade school onwards, women are discouraged in various ways from pursuing technical and management careers. I'd be willing to bet blacks face similar pressures.

    I was one of a handful of white kids bussed to a predominantly black public school as part of desegregation in Tennessee in the early 80's, and I can say that the mostly black schools I saw were in utter disrepair, short on textbooks, and staffed with teachers who did not compare well to their counterparts in mostly white schools. (In both cases, most of the teachers were white.) Schools in TN are some of the worst in the nation -- I went to what was regarded as the best high school in the area and didn't have to write a single essay in four years -- but the predominately black schools were even worse. We can talk all we want about the role of individual initiative, but not having the opportunity to learn will screw you good.

    --

  • by grappler (14976) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:21AM (#531118) Homepage
    Sorry, M$ may be evil but come on.

    I remember one time Jesse Jackson headed to silicon valley to complain about a shortage of blacks being hired.

    The resounding response: "Bring 'em in! We are facing a shortage of computer experts and we will hire anybody who is competent!"
  • by furiousgeorge (30912) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:21AM (#531119)
    shit like this bugs me, but whatever.....

    I worked for MSFT for 4 years and damn - i'd do it again in a second. I've never worked for a compnay that treated it's employees as well. You're going to stay late? Let us order dinner for you..... anything you want to drink. Shuttle buses. Great stock options If you worked your ass off and did good work, expect to get nice fat bonuses (twice annually) and promotions. Nobody I ever met gave a rats ass if you were white, black, purple, straight, gay, male, female, etc. Your work is what mattered - period.

    All that aside - racism? Have you seen the racial makeup of any tech company in the US? 'Whites' (whatever that means) are generally in the minority.... in my current company a SUBSTANTIAL minority. People get promoted according to ability, talent, social skills (YES - to manage other people you can't just be a code genius, you have to be able to work with people as well). Just because you are 'qualified' for a promotion doesn't mean you are the MOST qualified. Sorry - that's life.

    Don't get me wrong - i'm not about to say that there couldn't possibly be individuals whos actions may be suspect. But they would be just that - individuals. A coroporate racist policy? Give me a friggin break. People forget that MSFT in Redmond is what - 18000 employees? It's a small city! And you'll get the same kind of cross secion of people there that you get anywhere....

    And FIVE BILLION? Well, that just speaks for itself...
    j
  • by johnathan (44958) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:19AM (#531120) Homepage
    First of all, I'd let someone do just about anything to me for $5B. That's quite an absurd amount of money.
    The lawyers cite statistics showing that just 2.6 percent of Microsoft's approximately 22,000 employees, and just 1.6 percent of its 5,155 managers, are black. "The numbers illustrate that Microsoft is guilty of some of the most egregious discrimination in corporate America," Hoffler said.
    I find this to be a bit hyperbolic. Anyone have an idea what the percentage is of black workers across the tech industry? These numbers don't indicate any malfeasance if they're in line with the rest of the industry. Maybe black people don't tend to go into this line of work, for any number of reasons. I'm not saying this is true, but it's hard to comment on MS's practices without knowing the broader picture.

    --

  • by mjh (57755) <mark.hornclan@com> on Thursday January 04, 2001 @11:04AM (#531121) Homepage Journal
    Everywhere I've worked (UNIX Systems Admin/Engineering) I've been seen as a remarkably compentent, skilled worker....until I meet the customer face-to-face. Then, suddenly, my decisions are questioned more, people go over my head to ask about things that are my responsibility. Even back to college (University of Michigan), I was faced every day with fellow students who were SO SURE that they were smarter than me

    This is true for me too. I'm white. Why do you assume that since all of this happens, that it's racially motivated? This stuff just happens, and it seems to me that office politics is the single most non-discriminatory thing there is.

    Find a black man on your job site, and ask him where he's from, and what high school he attended. I guarantee he's either got parents as priviliged as most of yours, or he worked his ASS off to get to where he is now.

    Again, why do you assume that this is true only for black men on the jobsite? You seem to assume that black people only get on the job through hard work and that everyone else was handed it on a silver platter.

    Ok. So your high school didn't challenge you. Which left you with lots of time to do things, like challenge yourself. And it would appear from your own words, that you got something very rewarding from being challenged. My high school challenged me incredibly, but it left me almost no time to do anything else. It would seem to me that we did about the same amount of work. Why assume that you're the only one that worked your A$$ off?

  • by owillis (74881) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:28AM (#531122) Homepage
    In my experience it's always amused me at the reaction I get when I come in for an interview. On the phone, it would be near impossible for someone to realize that I'm black - I have a classic "white" voice. They read my resume and probably talk to me on the phone, but you can see a look of surprise in many an interviewer's eyes when his next applicant is a 6 foot tall black guy.
    --
    OliverWillis.Com [oliverwillis.com]
  • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:38AM (#531123) Homepage Journal
    It is clearly not the case that all whites naturally assume they are better employees than blacks, just like it is clearly not the case that all whites have access to good education (have you ever been to the south ?), just like it is _clearly_ not the case that all members of your "Racial group" even give a shit about the educational progress or financial stratification of their race.

    There is obviously racism in our field, because our field is made of PEOPLE, some of whom happen to be racist, or even have subconscious prejudicial tendancies.

    The problem with this lawsuit is that it states that microsoft as a _company_ has a corporate policy of discrimination against blacks. This lawsuit isn't saying "there are some bad apples at MS" or "all the people we had to deal with were racist" - it says that "microsoft as a company is run by a secret good old boy network of black-hating people that turn otherwise unbiased managers into agents of the white devil".

    How likely do you think that is ?

    As someone who has been through Microsoft interviewer training, at what point in the MS hiring process do i get told about the secret "discriminate against blacks" rule ? It sure wasn't in my training packet. It wasn't anywhere listed in the whole section of stuff about actively but tastefully avoiding any questions or issues regarding ethnicity/religion/gender/preference/whatever. As interviewers there are whole lists of things we're not allowed to talk about and anything that could even be used to inferr financial history or caste or racial background or whatever is strictly taboo.

    I've worked at a number of tech firms - there is more racial diversity at MS than anywhere else i've worked, both in general and in management.

    Although I don't beleive in the government mandating AA programs and quotas, given a hiring choice where all things were equal, if one candidate clearly had an advantage growing up because of racial and financial history, and the other probably had to work _really_ hard against lots of financial and social obsticales, i'd want to try and hire the less priviledged of the two - the one that had to work harder to cover the same distance. But I like to root for the underdog. Unfortuneately, thanks to all the AA and PC stuff thats been forced on institutions, my understanding is that i am not allowed to take into consideration such issues when making those decisions.

    Shame really - the very basis to judge who's had the harder climb, a method to really show minorities and those who are disenfranchised with "playing by the rules" that they _can_ win - pulled right out of the whole hiring process.

    And for what its worth, I salute you for sticking with it to get to where you are now - I got glimpses of how the black kids at my HS who were really working hard to make the most of their education were treated by others - sometimes whites - but more often than not, the blacks from their very own neighborhoods that seemed to have given up on the system. It was disheartening all around, to say the least.

    It's hard to say wether AA type programs or even optional preference given to minorities will do anything to help rekindle the spirit of the kids that see a tunnel with no light at the end. Part of me thinks that people see through AA and minority preference as a cop out, enforcing the idea that minorities _cant_ get ahead without help.

    Whats the right answer ? The government says im not allowed to have a preference one way or the other. What do you say ? What should the hiring practice in the tech industry be ?
  • by Thomas Wendell (98443) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:33AM (#531124)
    I worked at Microsoft as a developer for over 10 years in the Office group. I participated in the hiring process and was a manager. We were constantly looking to hire, train and retain the best possible people for the job, regardless of race, gender, personality or anything else not directly related to getting the job done.

    Very early in my tenure, the hiring criteria was explained to me thus: "it doesn't matter if the candidate goes and pees in the corner of your office in the middle of the interview, if the candidate is a brilliant programmer, we hire him or her". The foolishness of racism or gender bias was even clearer by implication and made explicit through HR training.

    Apart from the obvious moral and legal issues, racism is stupid and self-destructive. Success means a lot at Microsoft and discrimination reduces your competitiveness. In my experience, stupid people don't last long at Microsoft.

    Obviously Microsoft is a huge company which I left several years ago, and I don't know the specific people involved, but I doubt the corporate culture has changed that much since I was there.
  • by borzwazie (101172) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @01:04PM (#531125) Homepage
    Call me a troll/Flamebait if you will:

    Disclaimer: I'm a white guy.

    I'm usually surprised to see black guys programming. Why?

    At the college I went to (an engineering school) the majority of black men and women attended the liberal arts/Afro-American studies major.

    A friend of mine, Tavia, was in the same engineering program as I was. A black woman engineer. She tended to stand out in class :) But, she was an incredibly talented and intelligent person. She got great grades. I often asked her for help, and we worked together on several lab projects. She became friends with a number of the engineering students and we ate lunch together, and just hung out a lot.

    The black men and women at our campus tended to eat lunch in their own little cluster in the corner. They took a pretty dim view of Tavia eating lunch with us. They'd come right up to her and say things like "Forget what color you are?" They'd tear decorations off her dorm room door. They physically and verbally harassed her. How can black people who want to advance deal with this kind of pressure? I sure wouldn't know how.

    I feel that the black community is just as responsible as the white community for the current conditions.

  • ...I got nice and angry at some of the comments posted on this article. It's funny to me that people I consider my peers (meaning geeks) always tend to assume there is no racism in our field, because they honestly think that they're too smart to be racist.

    First, let me be frank: I don't agree with suing for $5billion. Nor do I agree with using the small percentage of MSFT minority workers as leverage. What I DO agree with is the basis behind their argument, which is the EXACT same attitude being reinforced on this board.

    Everywhere I've worked (UNIX Systems Admin/Engineering) I've been seen as a remarkably compentent, skilled worker....until I meet the customer face-to-face. Then, suddenly, my decisions are questioned more, people go over my head to ask about things that are my responsibility. Even back to college (University of Michigan), I was faced every day with fellow students who were SO SURE that they were smarter than me, and professors who didn't think that I deserved to be here, assuming that I was only here because of Affirmative Action (I've got that in the workplace as well).

    It seems the general consensus among white, male tech workers is that they belong in the industry. If they are up for a promotion against an equally skilled minority, of COURSE they should get the promotion, because they're automatically more skilled. Because the majority of tech managers are ALSO white, this attitude is perpetuated.

    Let's set the record straight: My racial group does not choose to be less educated...we simply don't always have access to the same resources growing up as whites. That can't possibly be understood by someone who's never attended public school in a major city (I'm from Detroit). I took freshman EECS with 3 hundred white guys that had been taking C classes since the 9th grade, and the only exposure I'd had to any form of high-level programming was self-taught. Poor K-12 education == Poor SAT/ACT != quality higher education. This uneven playing field is the reason for the small numbers of us in the tech industry.

    I'm sick of typing at this point, and I've got Apache modules to code. To sum up, stop with the "Blacks are always complaining...why don't they just get jobs...they have as much access to higher education as we do" crap. Find a black man on your job site, and ask him where he's from, and what high school he attended. I guarantee he's either got parents as priviliged as most of yours, or he worked his ASS off to get to where he is now.

    --Just Another Pimp A$$ Perl Hacker
  • I don't deny that white does not neccesarily equate privilige. I'm simply stating that Joe White Boy in freshman engineering is definitelymore likely to be priviliged.

    Case in point: When I was taking a high-level operating systems course, the prof randomly assigned us to groups. My group conferred primarily over e-mail, giving each other code examples, arguing about 'better ways' of doing things, etc. I ALWAYS seemed to have the correct answer, so it got to the point where everyone in the group generally agreed with me when I suggested something.

    After the midterm, my group got together at the UGLi to go over documentation for an upcoming project. We were supposed to meet in a specific area of the library. My group was there when I got there, and when I got there, they looked up at me, and went right back to what they were doing, like SURELY I wasn't the guy they were waiting on. I introduced myself, and you should have SEEN the look of surprise on their faces.

    That's the kind of racism I'm talking about. The automatic assumption that black == less competent.

    --Just Another Pimp A$$ Perl Hacker
  • by Ånubis (126403) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:58AM (#531128) Homepage

    As a past MS intern, I must whole heartedly agree with furiousgeorge. MS does not care about your appearance. All they care about is what you get done and what you'll get done in the future. (Nearly everyday at work I walked around without shoes on... heck, no even cared when I wore my KMFMS [kmfms.com] shirt to work.)

    As for the allegations of racial discrimination, all I can say is bah!
    The number of Asian people that work for MS is extremely high. In fact my manager was Indian, and half of my team was Chinese. Also my group was at least half female, which is outstandingly high for the tech sector.

  • by SnapShot (171582) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:24AM (#531129)

    I recently moved from Seattle to Washington D.C. and the difference in racial makeup as a whole takes a while to get used to (see below). Whatever the statitistics on programmers' racial makeup might be, the additional statistic that might come into play is the local population as a whole.

    Actaully, I just ran to the Census [census.gov] web site and got the following numbers;

    Population of Washington State (esitmate): 5756361

    Black Population of the state (esitmate): 203853

    Percentage: 3.5%

    It seems that blacks at Microsoft are slightly "under-represented", but there are so many other variables (education, age, etc., etc.)...

    * I would kill for a decent bowl of Pho, an inexpensive vegetarian Phad Thai, or a good sushi restaraunt that doesn't cost an arm and a leg... If they build another goddamned steak house in D.C. I think my colon's gonna blow.

  • I've been following this, as much as I don't care to, between the traffic reports and when too tired to get up and shut the TV off.

    As I heard it, it stems from perception of treatment, but as lawyers will do, they play some mean cards when they decide to go for big huge giant money like that. Tossing workforce makeup percentages around, drawing attention to the way one person is treated, overlooking that the same treatment is dished out to everyone, etc.

    Reality is, few blacks are in the high tech industry. Period. Has nothing to do with heritage, skin color, religion, etc., but to do with few persuing the skills to the point they would be actively recruited. Perhaps this can be the product of layers of demographics, but you can't blame a company for not hiring enough programmers if most of the applicants decided to study greek literature. It's absurd. And all this bending-over-backward which companies have done to avoid looking racist won't really pay dividends for years.

    Down the coast, where Mr. Jesse Jackson raised a big stink, in Silicon Valley, you will find ethnic diversity is the rule. Not because of some quota system, or trying to appease alleged social movement leaders, but because the people brought their skills in and carved out their space. Sadly for some of these complainers, it's not the ethnic diversity they want to see.

    I have some serious reservations about the legitimacy of a complaint when I see a party going for enough money to buy the Dakotas.

    Maybe they'd have a case if Microsoft forced them to smoke cigarettes...

    --
    +++ Out Of Cheese Error +++
    +++ MELON MELON MELON +++

  • by juakali (235312) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:37AM (#531131)
    It does not matter how many Billions Bill Gates has given to minority charites, he does not make every promotion, MS is composed of over 39,000 employess. Racism is caused by some of these employees prejudices (nothing to do with Gates) acting on them.

    If someone has been brought up to think that Black people like me are less intelligent then he is just because of the color of my skin, then the next time I am up for promotion with a White counterpart, even if I might be more qualified than he is, in my superiors eyes, Black people are just not intelligent enough to hold that position, and I will be denied the position. Now, this is Racism. How do I know??? I have experienced it in the Tech field.

    All those who are saying that Racism does not exist in the tech field are saying so because they have not experinced it....and would't.

    The same goes for stereotypes such as Black people being thought of as being lazy, violent and as one poster put it, the most criminals. Did you ever stop to think how someone felt when he walked into an office for the 1st day at works and was already being treated as if he were lazy or just came out of jail?? Always a suspect when something went missing? answering rediculous questions like "have you ever been to jail?"

    Most times it is so subtle that I don't think that most white people realise what they are doing or what effect it has.. but then again thats just me being an optimst. Yes, racism exists.

    oh, and the $5B is for the hundreds of former and currnet MS employees, not just 7of them.
  • by OlympicSponsor (236309) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:26AM (#531132)
    I have no real opinion about whether $5 billion is too high or not.

    However if we are going to discuss it, we have to at least get the facts straight. First of all, the 7 people are trying to make this a class action suit--which spreads the money out some.

    Second, at most importantly, the plaintiffs aren't saying that they personally lost $5 billion due to racism at Microsoft. They want that as *punitive* (means "punishing") damages. If all MS was required to do was give each black person $100k (for lost salary, etc) they wouldn't even notice. The idea is to inflict some pain on the corporation to force them to change.
    --
    MailOne [openone.com]
  • by Ear Phantom (250084) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @10:41AM (#531133)
    I am appalled at most of the readers on this /. post. Racism in the tech industry is very real, is very serious, and most importantly, falls into a category of problems where the potential damage done to its victims through neglect outweighs the potential damage done through abuse and fraud.

    First of all, Indians and Asians, though they may still be minorities, do not have the stigmas or problems that blacks and Hispanics do in this country, so pointing at them and saying "see, there's no racism here" is hardly relevant. The fact that these two groups (blacks and Hispanics) are underrepresented in higher income occupations is very serious, and it does not better the situation by shouting out allegations of "reverse discrimination" before their case has even been heard in a court of law. Is the fear that their complaints may actually be justified so overwhelming that it has to be covered up by the web of denial? Please, that is for the justice system to determine. And just remember that every jurer on every court faces that denial as well, which makes their struggles all the more challenging.

    Microsoft aside, we face an even bigger problem that 1) blacks and Hispanics live in poorer neighborhoods, 2) blacks and Hispanics are more likely to have undereducated parents, 3) blacks and Hispanics are more likely to go to public versus private schools, 4) living in poorer neighborhoods directly implies substandard educational facilities, 5) computer science is more likely to be taught in college preporatory classes, which are more likely to exclude blacks and Hispanics due to the substandard elementary school facilities, 6) blacks and Hispanics are less likely to make it to college in the first place, 7) get real--show me a list of computer jobs where "bachelors degree" is not a requirement.

    And even if one or two are lucky enough to make it through all of those obstacles, they face an even bigger challenge in getting noticed for jobs, promotions, benefits, etc., consciously or unconsciously.

    Their case is worth hearing out, we owe them that much. 40 acres and a mule? I'd rather have 40,000 stock options...

  • by typical geek (261980) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:15AM (#531134) Homepage
    Becuase for a variety of societal reasons, there aren't as many blacks in the computer industry as there are whites, or Asians.

    You can say the same thing for women, there aren't as many women in the computer industry as men, percentage wise.

    I think to find their suit substantial, they need something stronger than percentages.
  • by Lover's Arrival, The (267435) on Thursday January 04, 2001 @09:20AM (#531135) Homepage
    Hi. I don't understand the American legal system when it comes to suing people and companies. It seems like you can sue for any amount of money that you like!

    Why, here 5 employees are suing for $5 Billion - Isn't this completely over the top? $50,000 each would be more like it. Doesn't it mean that big companies are in total fear of the very slightest slip up, and are unlikely to take risks and innovate when it could mean that they are likely to lose Billions if it even goes slightly wrong.

    Also, I really really find it hard to believe that a company in this day and age would be racist. They are driven by money, and finding the best employee for the job is the absolute bottom line in any company these days.

    It'll be very interesting to see more details of this case and see just what happens! ;)

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