Facebook’s Gender Equality Fail


We had an interesting discussion in our Liberals Unite Writers Group yesterday about Facebook’s new “friends” icon for gender equality that I wanted to share with you all.

Ed, one of our writers and editors, began by posting the following to the writers group late Thursday:

I was about to post the below on my own profile, when I thought, “I’d like to hear what Madison Kimrey has to say about this…” Then I realized, there probably isn’t a better person to write about this. You are, after all, the generational counterpart to the 13 year old boy I reference in my comment. So, here you go Madison. I hope you’ll write about this if only because I would want to read it.
Here’s my take:
‘Oh for cryin’ out loud! I’m sorry, but this is among the stupider things I’ve ever seen, and a prime example of how people get gender equality wrong. Gender equality is not moving the man behind the woman because the woman was behind the man, and calling that equal. That’s just the opposite kind of discrimination. Gender equality would be putting neither of them behind the other.
And in my opinion, it hurts the push for gender equality when people over-correct, as Facebook has done here. Just now in the world somewhere, a boy who just turned 13 and old enough for a Facebook account, just signed up and got sent the subtle message that he’s less important than a female, which he quietly internalized. Which is the exact same problem, on the opposite pool of victims! The idea should be to eliminate hurting people – not just to hurt different people for a while.
Facebook, this is an epic fail.’

Explaining that she was busy and lacked the “time to slay this dragon,” Madison responded that:

I read this and I agree with you somewhat. I disagree about getting a message the boy is less important. The fact is that really, who cares? Nobody would really notice unless Facebook didn’t announce this change. I agree that having both side by side better represents equality. If they really want to do something about equality then yeah, hire more women and pay them equally. They could do a better job moderating and take attacks on women seriously while not putting breastfeeding photos in the same category as porn. But a friend request icon? Let me count up all the fucks I do not give. It doesn’t empower me and is just something to ignore the way I ignore most of the friend requests I get. And to that 13 year old boy who feels less important by it, I would say stay away from Facebook until your self esteem is less affected by small things on the Internet.

And Madison is absolutely correct when it comes to Facebook and gender equality. Want proof? Here’s how CNN explained it on Wednesday:

A 2014 company diversity report, Facebook’s first, showed that 69% of its global work force was male. The gender divide is even greater among global tech and senior-level employees, who were 85% and 77% male, respectively.
“As these numbers show, we have more work to do — a lot more,” Maxine Williams, Facebook’s global director of diversity, said in a statement at the time.
The company’s 2015 report revealed little progress. Among global employees, 68% are male. In tech and senior leadership positions, the divide is similar, with 84% and 77% male, respectively.

Samuel Warde
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