2014/Classism in open source/tech
Notes from Jun 27 Class discussion
Guilt about rapid chute from lower/working class to upper class
feel left behind
leaving a company is a scary thing feeling trapped consistently get paid less than those around me! people who get boost from moving companies
a form of hurt, but not getting hurt because - unfairness - trying to figure out
weird to ask for more than $30K - making less than worth
does throw off scale - hard to negotiate
I come from mixed class background - didn't know how to university, dropped out. Ended up in tech.
hard to talk about numbers! managed transparency exercise - when you set something up that there are numbers in the space, people feel ok talking
so many company handbooks say it's a fireable offense to discuss salary - that is bullshit! legally, federally, you can't do that! collective bargaining!
Has anyone else talked about salary transparency at their jobs?
I asked if HR would release pay ranges for roles - "our devs earn from blah to blah" - caused massive drama
Contrasts seen in the tech world - OSBridge vs OSCON (has a pricing designed to be exclusionary) - attitude is substantial! Salary transparency might not be a good approach - people are about comparison .... "we need to publicize CEOs getting more money" ... CEOs want to make more ... hasn't helped anything .... when we focus on displaying things,
People who suddenly make a lot of money, more than their parents, give away a lot of money to assuage our corporate guilt
Falling in salary means you feel guilty for NOT giving money to worthy causes!
Time is just as valuable - but can be hard to give too
One person feels like a very privileged person who tries to avoid taking advantage of privilege he could have had... could have done things that could have made more money.... we often make money through that exploitation
are my sacrifices actually helping anything
from 1 ex-poor person, the sacrifice is being here, leaving my community to be here and get something for everyone ... huge sense of obligation ... is this a good way to do this? what if I went back to being a peer, in kitchens
what do we do for self-care?
Lots of burnout
Being nice to people I care about, stopping work at 5
Took a bigcorp job to have the money to be an activist, safety. They haven't fired anyone - you don't have to be quiet... I feel very bad about having that job
I appreciate that this space exists - indiv & communal concerns .... salary history piece .... weird emotional part of earning a particular amount of money, more than parent. Emotional component.
Hard to talk
Does open questions - what do you do? connect back with community? Donation piece - one concrete piece .... how to stay connected with community, difficult... if not owrking, also - type of activism or time to put into things. Struggle: I tend towards more organizing than direct action/protest. Is that me being a dilettante?
Early in my career as eng, considered switch - couldn't find things I could do that I believed in, other than blood money/exploitation. Fortunate to get nonprofit job. But now I make a big salary from donations! Great salary, great to do work I believe in, but to be getting paid so well. Used to be an activist. Now my time is wrapped up in my tech work! Assuage guilt by donating. Feel so removed from past communities. Grew up skating line btw poverty/workingclass. Now catapulted into such a higher pay range. Feel so disconnected. I still hang out with them. Always a conflict when we're hanging out. Sure, I can pay $25 for entree, friends can't. Constant struggle about managing current $ standing with communities I want to be a part of.
Being uncomf that class exists. IN ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS. Came out of school - $50/$60K. Partner: more like $75-$80K. Has gone up to 6 figures. I have friends who went to school for history & struggled finding ANY job. I feel lucky, but get paid 2/3 what you do (and doing much more "worthy" work).
Anil Dash's post on "blue collar tech worker" - http://dashes.com/anil/2012/10/the-blue-collar-coder.html - build brochureware sites, unlock cell phones, scrub viruses off PCs. Continuum to PhD/Google eng. Feel tension/snobbery/exclusion in open source community. "but you don't create new things. you're just a [CMS] user, not a developer. Not one of the cool kids." I make sites with Rails, not make gems/mod Ruby itself. Looking down on people who use the tech - maybe they don't have the edu, or just want a steady income.
And disregard for empathy work & customer service in general?
It dawned on me late that I grew up poor... but I also grew up fairly priv'd - tall, seemingly white male.... I've mostly worked as a volunteer in nonprofits ... moved into consulting. Struggle with negotiating an hourly rate. Think a lot about privileges I have, like being able to live on very little.
parents didn't want me to know I was poor ... ethic of edu. Looking to better oneself, appreciating finer things Value enculturation ... aspiration to a higher class.
family didn't talk about mixed racial background
in bell hooks's Class Matters, we hide & don't talk about class -- [we all get told you can be the same good tihng] .... don't talk about the tech hierarchy, fanboyism -- everyone's looking up to Zuck/etc.
Tech is upper echelon - dev bootcamps - so predatory! sold to people who are lower class! if you dump $15K into this 3-month program, magically get 6-fig job when you finish!!
California is coming down on those schools. Need to get regulated. Savio?? in Los Angeles. Good one is Ada Academy in Seattle is free? for women? - Sabio.la - bootcamp for marginalized people
Let's be honest - trad edu - community college - also sells that
Discomfort about os world - we're internally focused - this is part of a bigger system - what impact this has on general public - term: myth of trickle down technology. Idea that somehow because everyone can learn to code, somehow this will deliver tech meaning that will empower
working to develop tech where product actually empowers people - UX as a privilege issue
As an industry .... I am the class-conscious killjoy at my job. I brought it up and people shunned me for a few days, that a big acquisition that was in the news was for a lot of money, and $ could have been spent on something better
Dev bootcamp - you're gonna do it yourself in your spare time & pay your own money for training. That's where you'll learn. Classist - not quite sexist -- super gendered. Ableist. (see "spoon theory")
Ascend - wanted to get away from this exploitation. In 6 weeks, connect you, put magic sparkle on your head to get you ACCESS.
Philosophical diff between freee software & open source -- focusing on the actual freedom .... hard to believe that free software would be less enabling than proprietary software. OS - misses the point of empowerment .... whole philosophy ... irritated .... issues of discrimination & classism. As someone primarily self-taught ... opens doors ... have to have a baseline of privilege to open those doors