Alex St. John has been in the headlines a lot this week, not just for his views on game development and the technology industry more broadly but the conversation he’s sparked around that. And it’s all well and fine to go against the grain, but not when you’re espousing a view that risks the physical and mental well-being of your employees, as well as your bottom line.
St. John’s views on women in tech weren’t terribly popular either, and they’ve just been skewered mercilessly by a surprising voice: his own daughter.
In a post on Medium, Amilia St. John introduces herself as the daughter of the DirectX creator and makes her feelings quite clear from the outset.
For those not following the horrific toddler meltdown my father has been very publicly broadcasting over the past few days, here is a short summary …
Amilia then proceeded to take aim at what she terms “my father’s sexist, ableist and racist rants” — particularly given that he had used a photo of her in one of his presentation slides without permission.
“Women make up 29.1% of the tech industry, but only 16.6% of technical jobs,” Amilia writes, citing a CNET report. “In a world where so many women are finally gaining the opportunity for a voice, the tech industry is quiet. And what my father seems to so fundamentally misunderstand is that this is NOT, as he insinuates, a result of women ‘claiming victimhood’.”
A large part of the problem, according to her, is the lack of penetration for computer sciences in the standard schooling curriculum. Only 5% of high schools in the United States offer the Computer Science AP exam, meaning that the majority of women will pass through some of their most formative years in education without even having had computer sciences as an option.
People can still transfer to a computer science major, of course, although Amilia says they start out at a disadvantage. “Even if they do eventually decide to switch majors, it can be difficult or nearly impossible to finish within four years as a late transit. Adding to this adversity, many women and minorities feel intense isolation when confronted with the hard reality that they do not fit in with their overwhelmingly male classmates.”
For comparison, here’s what St. John himself said about women in tech:
“Technical women are often quickly promoted for a variety of reasons. Stronger social skills often make them better architects, technical writers, QA, or technical support people.”
Amilia argues that upholding such a stereotype and promoting women out of engineering roles only serves to damage the supply of experienced female technical executives.
The blasts against the antiquated view of technology, and management, continue:
Consider that as many as 50% of women working in STEM fields have chosen to leave over the past decade as a result of hostile, unwelcoming work environments. Rather than telling these women to buck up, suffer in silence and keep working, it would be more effective to address the root of the proverbial elephant in the room: The men (and sometimes women) who believe what people like my father are spewing, and regurgitate it at their female counterparts.
Amilia’s post marks the end of a week that has resulted in developers and industry heavyweights across the board publicly making a unified stance on crunch and the management of studios and companies within the technology sector. But the question still remains: how much impact will it have in the end, and how many developers this time next year will still be uncompensated for excessive amounts of overtime?