The company GitHub used to have a circular rug in its Oval Office themed waiting room that was similar to the Great Seal of the United States. Under threats from online bullies, the new CEO pulled the rug and replaced it. Why? Because “meritocracy” is somehow sexist and racist.
We thought ‘meritocracy’ was a neat way to think of open source but now see the problems with it. Words matter. We’re getting a new rug.
— Chris Wanstrath (@defunkt) January 22, 2014
The whining basically came down to this:
“The tech industry isn’t still predominantly white and male because white men are better at their jobs than everyone else, it’s because many white men have had more opportunities to succeed than their minority and female counterparts.
“Technology may be more meritocratic than many other industries, but not to the extent that you can attribute anyone’s success solely to their own smarts and hard work. Opportunities, connections and socioeconomic status still matter. So do race and gender.”
This is ridiculous for many reasons. First, meritocracy is a laudable goal. Even if the statistical number of non-Whites and women are not reflective of the broader population, it does not mean that Whites/men are better, only that those who have risen to the top within the company happen to be demographically askance.
Opportunities will always vary, and many men and Whites won’t have those either, nor does race/gender necessarily exist as the divide between socioeconomic positions. Connections will always be important, but that does not mean that we should strive to higher the promote the best.
If people of this or that ethnicity/race are not as well represented, then perhaps we should look at why that is, and not just chalk it up to “racism”. Perhaps, also, we should consider that mayby, just maybe, tech companies might be more attractive to men as a place to work or field to study than it is to women? Considering that women are becoming an increasingly outsized portion of college graduates, saying that they are oppressed is questionable at best.
Their new slogan? “In Collaboration We Trust.”
What better way to obfuscate who actually contributed and subsidize the work of the less able. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need?
With the new CEO in charge of GitHub who would cave like that, it is no wonder that the word “meritocracy” is tossed out in favor of unthinking nonsense. Striving towards meritocracy was laudable; rewarding achievement is good; GitHub’s purging of “meritocracy” is FacePalm worthy.