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Jokes/Interweb Things Thread, BBC Viewpoint: More women needed in technology in Fun Stuff; Pcstru... You seem very closely related to someone I know in another life on another forum and who can also ...
  1. #46

    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Pcstru... You seem very closely related to someone I know in another life on another forum and who can also be destructively argumentative. When he gets in this mood, I leave him to it.

    Guess what?

  2. #47

    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    The specification defines the merits and helps us to avoid discriminating on factors that are not related to actual merit.
    Which is surely the point? We DON'T want to discriminate either positively or negatively on the factor of gender, which is NOT related to actual merit.
    As for "best" - this is always going to be subjective, isn't it. It means different things to different people, and the person interviewing for the job has his or her ideas as to what "best" might be.
    But this must be quantifiable to a great extent - there has to be a good reason for every requirement. For example, someone might need the strength to wield a 20 pound jack hammer. This doesnt mean it would have to be a man

  3. #48

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    "Ability to do the job" seems to be begging the question - how can anyone judge that before you do it? Qualifications - for what? Academic achievement is a good indication that you were good in a subject at school, college, university. Doesn't mean you will be any good in a work situation. There are plenty of company bosses out there who left school with no qualifications and proved that they don't matter the hard way.
    By interviewing them? It becomes very obvious in an interview whether someone would be good or bad at a job. It takes careful design of questions though. Which is actually one of the reasons I dislike the current 'send your CV' type process for applying for jobs - they lead people to focus on paperwork, and not on the person's actual ability. I may not have finished my degree, but my ability to do the jobs I apply for? I'm pretty sure I'm very good at what I do.

    Sure. And the police and army benefit from being big strapping running, jumping, climbing tree type *lads*. You could say they are the "best for the job". So would that be a good thing - an all male "best ability to do the job" police force or army?
    The army and police have changed *a lot* in recent years. There are many women in the police now, and the number of women in the forces is increasing also. I've a friend who is in the army, just finished her first deployment in Afghanistan, and while she was going through the training she got very annoyed by the 'women have to be treated differently' attitude that they were being forced into. ie. they were expected to do shorter runs, less press-ups, carry less weight etc... All that attitude does is lead to resentment within the forces - ie. 'why are they here, they can't do half of what we can do?' thoughts from the men. Which then forces the women to overcompensate and become more 'laddy'.

    The army is made up of many different types of people, because it isn't all about running and shooting. Engineers, ammo techs, officers, medics etc... There's nothing wrong with women not being squaddies IMO.

  4. #49


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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Which is surely the point? We DON'T want to discriminate either positively or negatively on the factor of gender, which is NOT related to actual merit.
    As for "best" - this is always going to be subjective, isn't it. It means different things to different people, and the person interviewing for the job has his or her ideas as to what "best" might be.
    But this must be quantifiable to a great extent - there has to be a good reason for every requirement. For example, someone might need the strength to wield a 20 pound jack hammer. This doesnt mean it would have to be a man
    Agreed it does not have to be a man. So if that is your job spec (and let's say that is the entirety of the job spec) and you have 20 applicants, 10 of which meet your criteria, on what basis do you then discriminate? Whatever it is, it is not 'merit' (ability to do the job) since the specification should define that completely. Some jobs can be quite adequately done by a large number of people - "best" is not an issue.

  5. #50

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    Agreed it does not have to be a man. So if that is your job spec (and let's say that is the entirety of the job spec) and you have 20 applicants, 10 of which meet your criteria, on what basis do you then discriminate? Whatever it is, it is not 'merit' (ability to do the job) since the specification should define that completely. Some jobs can be quite adequately done by a large number of people - "best" is not an issue.
    As I said - interview. Then you see their attitude, whether they're actually able to do the job, and whether they'd fit into the 'ethos' of the company. (This isn't like 'fitting in', this is more like Google and their character tests - will you look to further the goals of the company etc...).

  6. #51


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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    By interviewing them? It becomes very obvious in an interview whether someone would be good or bad at a job. It takes careful design of questions though.
    I once got into terrible trouble when defining a recruitment process. We had met to decide questions to ask the candidates and I suggested sending the questions along with the job descriptions. I said that would give each candidate as much time as possible to think of good answers, so we would be judging the best quality response the candidate could come up with rather than conflating the best response in a rather short interview time during which the candidates might be stressed. That was met with some hostility but they could just about see my reasoning. Unfortunately I completely lost them when I went on to suggest that we also send candidates our model answers. That went down like a lead balloon and I doubt they could see the point even with a large telescope.

    Interviews are terribly difficult to do well and are easily subverted by unconscious bias. They are usually the least rigorous part of a recruitment process and interviewers are often unskilled and don't even attempt to differentiate between someone parroting what they expect to hear and someone who genuinely knows what they are talking about. Recruitment metrics are often poor but without good measurement of outcomes, it is not obvious that good metrics are any better than poor ones.

    There is good research on bias in recruitment selection using blind controls to show how prevalent unconscious bias on gender, race etc is. There is also plenty of evidence in the demographics of organisations that bias is alive and well. It's not just about women or particular ethnicities choosing not to do those things, it is (often unconscious) discrimination. If not positive discrimination as a means to address those imbalances then what?

  7. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    There is good research on bias in recruitment selection using blind controls to show how prevalent unconscious bias on gender, race etc is. There is also plenty of evidence in the demographics of organisations that bias is alive and well. It's not just about women or particular ethnicities choosing not to do those things, it is (often unconscious) discrimination. If not positive discrimination as a means to address those imbalances then what?
    I have done a great deal of training on recruitment and I agree, there are many examples of unconscious bias in the process. This is usually addressed, so far as is possible, by having more than one person in the process so that bias is counteracted. Bias is however a fact of life.
    Unless you are sure that the discrimination is, for example, racial, how can positive discrimination help?
    The answer is proper training - when I started in recruitment I had no idea how easy it is to be biased - my training was very good and faced me with countless examples of unconscious bias and how to counteract it. You can't be careful of it if you dont know what it is or what to look for.

  8. #53

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    @witch, Again I agree (at the risk of ruining my destructively argumentative reputation!) , Quality training should go a long way to addressing bias but how many people actually do recruitment training? Also if you are faced with kind of bias in (say) the London Met, which was branded "Institutionally Racist", do you really think training would address the issue?

    I'd also like to be clear that I'm not arguing that positive discrimination should come before merit. I'm suggesting that merit can be specified and that you can end up with many candidates who are equally good, equally capable. When you cross that line, discrimination on any basis is fairly arbitrary, so why not allow a demographic imbalance to be addressed.

  10. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    @witch, Again I agree (at the risk of ruining my destructively argumentative reputation!) , Quality training should go a long way to addressing bias but how many people actually do recruitment training? Also if you are faced with kind of bias in (say) the London Met, which was branded "Institutionally Racist", do you really think training would address the issue?
    YES - if it was done properly!! THAT is the problem, and THAT is what needs to be addressed. Many people don't realise their unconscious bias until faced with it and that alone will help immensely. It also flags up the people who are possibly going to be a problem where recruitment is concerned.
    After all, who is deciding what level of positive discrimination should be applied? Surely the accusation of bias would apply to them as well?

  11. #56

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    I once got into terrible trouble when defining a recruitment process. We had met to decide questions to ask the candidates and I suggested sending the questions along with the job descriptions. I said that would give each candidate as much time as possible to think of good answers, so we would be judging the best quality response the candidate could come up with rather than conflating the best response in a rather short interview time during which the candidates might be stressed. That was met with some hostility but they could just about see my reasoning. Unfortunately I completely lost them when I went on to suggest that we also send candidates our model answers. That went down like a lead balloon and I doubt they could see the point even with a large telescope.
    I'd disagree with both of those things. I'd not want to send candidates the questions we're going to ask them. I'd send other, different, questions. I'd also not understand sending model answers. As that just means someone could be a good liar and copy them in a clever way, same with the questions - send the ones in advance and they could just be good actors, repeating things they've been coached to say.

  12. #57


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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    YES - if it was done properly!! THAT is the problem, and THAT is what needs to be addressed. Many people don't realise their unconscious bias until faced with it and that alone will help immensely. It also flags up the people who are possibly going to be a problem where recruitment is concerned.
    It possibly does flag them up, but in (say) the London Met, the people they were being flagged up to were simply dismissive of the issue - "bias, what bias?". "institutionally racist" meant that racist attitudes were endemic from the top of the organisation to the bottom. It wasn't just overt racism that was a problem, the dominant culture was of white police officers who's most common experience of "black culture" was in street level confrontations. I'd like to think that training could address the issue but I think at best it would be rather slow and at worst it would have had very little effect.

    My experience of private companies is that recruitment training is rare. Even in the public sector the requirement is that one interviewer must have done fair recruitment training, it's not required for all interviewers to have done it.
    After all, who is deciding what level of positive discrimination should be applied? Surely the accusation of bias would apply to them as well?
    Sure, and there is a huge irony in discriminating on the basis of X to address imbalance caused by discrimination against X. The hope is that once the imbalance in an organisation is addressed, that itself causes a culture shift and balance is maintained without the need to positively discriminate on X. I suspect it's not quite that simple in practice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    I'd disagree with both of those things. I'd not want to send candidates the questions we're going to ask them. I'd send other, different, questions. I'd also not understand sending model answers. As that just means someone could be a good liar and copy them in a clever way, same with the questions - send the ones in advance and they could just be good actors, repeating things they've been coached to say.
    The suggestion had two purposes. First to get the interviewers to think about a situation where they are interviewing someone who is giving them exactly the answers they expect. We were looking for Prince 2 skills for which there were plenty of courses (so plenty of opportunity to learn to talk the talk) and Prince 2 is very particular about language such that you are steered to home in on particular keywords. Second and more important was to try and get them thinking about the list of questions and the whole idea of 'model answers'. The fact that we had model answers to many of our questions was an indication of a poor interview process. You have model answers for an exam or test, when you are interviewing someone you should be trying to explore their experience and your questions should such that you are unlikely to have model answers. A reasonable interview question might be along the lines of "tell me about your strengths and weaknesses" or "can you tell me about an experience you have of handling a challenging situation". They invite the candidate to relate actual experience and there are seldom right or wrong 'model' answers.

  14. #59

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    The suggestion had two purposes. First to get the interviewers to think about a situation where they are interviewing someone who is giving them exactly the answers they expect. We were looking for Prince 2 skills for which there were plenty of courses (so plenty of opportunity to learn to talk the talk) and Prince 2 is very particular about language such that you are steered to home in on particular keywords. Second and more important was to try and get them thinking about the list of questions and the whole idea of 'model answers'. The fact that we had model answers to many of our questions was an indication of a poor interview process. You have model answers for an exam or test, when you are interviewing someone you should be trying to explore their experience and your questions should such that you are unlikely to have model answers. A reasonable interview question might be along the lines of "tell me about your strengths and weaknesses" or "can you tell me about an experience you have of handling a challenging situation". They invite the candidate to relate actual experience and there are seldom right or wrong 'model' answers.
    Asking questions like those last 2 is great, but it is not going to allow you to figure out if someone is suitable for a technical position. You need to ask them about experiences of specific technologies, or specific situations. Especially as those 2 can basically be lied about.

    Eg. I asked questions in an interview a few months ago such as "You are asked to filter a website for a specific room. That room does not have specific PCs assigned to it. Instead, machines are wheeled in and plugged in in the room. You can also not filter by user, PC or IP as these will all change. How would you fulfil this request."

    I had an idea, as I'd already done it myself (the ports in the room were put on their own VLAN, and that VLAN's IP range was then filtered), but I wanted to see how others would approach it. It highlighted knowledge of networking technologies, and knowledge of filtering techniques.

    Hence there being a model answer...

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    @localzuk : That's a fair point although I personally would look to present the kind of questions which do have model answers in an exam/test prior to interview. I might then use the answers as the basis for some discussion in the interview but in the main, asking those type of questions in an interview seems to me to be (possibly) poor use of the time.

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