Programming code isn’t gendered. It’s inhuman, mathematical, objective — or so many engineers believe. But it’s also a product of human minds, judged by human beings. When one Facebook engineer conducted a study of code reviews inside the company last year, she found that women’s contributions were rejected 35 percent more often than those written by their male colleagues (Deepa Seetharaman in The Wall Street Journal).
The study caused a ruckus inside Facebook and led to a follow-up investigation by a Facebook executive that arrived at a different conclusion. Jay Parikh, Facebook’s head of infrastructure, found that the different rejection rates were the result of differences in engineers’ rank at the company, not gender. Less experienced, more junior engineers got more rejections. And of course it turns out that many more of Facebook’s female engineers — who make up only 17 percent of the company’s technical workforce — fit that description.
Why do we do this thing called “work,” anyway? Is it just about putting cash in our pockets and food on the table? The narrow, strict-constructionist take of classical economics answers with a resounding “yes!” We work to minimize our pain.
A team at Facebook studying employee engagement there came to a different conclusion: They found that the most powerful motivator for Facebook workers is pride in the company they work for — a pride that encompasses optimism about the firm’s future, belief in its mission, and confidence that it’s making the world better (Fast Company).
Of course you can’t say that and keep your job. Sure, Donald Trump’s recorded comments boasting about sexual predation in crude, callous language are politically toxic. They’re also kryptonite to employment. It’s “hard to believe he could get past the human resources department of a Fortune 500 company,” writes Andrew Ross Sorkin (The New York Times). This issue is no footnote — it’s at the heart of the bitter rancor that marks this election season. Trump’s appeal to his supporters is in part a backlash against socially and legally enforced limits on bad behavior, inadequately and inaccurately lumped together under the label of “political correctness.” It seems that a lot of people still dream of being Lord of Trump Castle and hitting on the powerless wenches. (Sad!) Many Trump fans yearn to turn back the clock to an era when mad men could stalk and abuse their female colleagues, while making tons more money than them, without ever facing consequences. But clocks move in only one direction — away from the indefensible practices of our elders. Trumpism will be swallowed by a tide of younger workers for whom sexual harassment and assault are as plainly over-the-line as other crimes. It’s already happening. This election’s noisy eruptions are the desperate final spasms of a dying belief system.
Science tastes better with Coke. According to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 96 national health organizations — names like the American Diabetes Association and the National Institutes of Health — took funding from Coke and Pepsi between 2011 and 2015 (Time). The soda makers, increasingly under attack for promoting obesity, are struggling to avoid the fate of the tobacco industry by plowing a chunk of their profits toward good relations with the medical establishment. They’re also lobbying hard to resist regulations and taxes on their product. This isn’t a simple story of quid-pro-quo corruption; the health organizations maintain they’re independent and unswayed by the source of their funds. Perhaps they’re turning bad money to a good cause. But when issues are as hotly contested as this one, researchers can’t just assert their integrity; their credibility demands a clean audit trail.