An open letter to Alcaldía de Sucre [Updated!]

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[Update: The Alcaldía has now taken down the ad.]

The Alcaldía de Sucre’s reply to Alejandro:

Estimado Sr. Machado:

Valoramos su observación y su interés por optimizar nuestros medios para convocar a nuevos servidores públicos en el área de las TICs.

La situación con la redacción del contenido ha sido corregida, a manera de continuar promoviendo nuestra política de inclusión e igualdad de oportunidades, para los servidores públicos y comunidades del municipio Sucre.

Gracias por reconocer los resultados y la labor que venimos haciendo. En Sucre seguimos adelante con el concurso de todos nuestros vecinos y gracias a un equipo de gestión pública reconocido por su capacidad y compromiso.

Como expresión de ello, la Dirección de Tecnología continúa promoviendo la ciudadanía y participación a través del uso de las TICs. Para lograrlo, en nuestra gestión tecnológica destaca la excelencia y la calidad en el trabajo que se realiza a diario por un talento humano, gerenciado por mujeres en la mayoría de los casos. Con esta visión, esperamos seguir fortaleciendo la plataforma tecnológica que hoy sirve y satisface a la comunidad del Municipio.

Para nosotros sería muy grato contar con sus aportes, para ello, ponemos a su disposición nuestra dirección de correo [email protected]

¡Seguimos trabajando!

Alejandro’s reply to the Alcaldía

Alcaldía, thank you for the reply. I hope that you go beyond merely correcting this ad and ensure men and women will be equally considered for the jobs you offer today and in the future.

I’m glad that there’s capable men and women working in your technology department, and I’m sure you’ll continue to do a great job.

All the best.

The Original Letter

Dear Alcaldía de Sucre,

You’ve done some amazing work in the municipality. Going against an utterly incompetent central government, you’ve managed to substantially reduce violent crime and advance bold initiatives in property rights. Your administration has been praised internationally; it even won the fourth place at the World Mayor 2014 Contest. You’ve set the bar high. I thought you completely embodied the change Venezuela desperately needs, until I saw this on your social media channels last week:

Programador

That’s right, this ad says that only men are welcome to work at “Venezuela’s best mayorship”. You, Alcaldía de Sucre, are telling all women to refrain from applying, because programming is a man’s job.

I am disappointed at your overt sexism. We’re striving to create a society in which men and women have equal rights. This policy would be bad enough coming from a private company, but it is incredibly damaging coming from you, a democratic body. You didn’t prevent your female voters from going to the polls, did you?

I’m trying to think what may have led you to make the terrible decision of screening out all women from this job. Maybe you’re not aware of the fact that computer science is now the most popular major for women at Stanford, or that, domestically, over a quarter of Computer Science students at USB are women, many of whom have gone on to graduate programs at prestigious universities or to work in great tech companies abroad. You wouldn’t know how many outstanding women Computer Science professors taught my generation much of what we know. Heck, you probably overlooked that the world’s first computer programmer was a woman, or that a recent study found that code written by women had higher approval rates than code written by men.

Including women isn’t just the right thing to do politically, it also makes a lot of economic sense. When we decrease the gap between women’s and men’s participation in the labor force, the economy grows. Venezuelan men and women need to work together to get out of the terrible crisis our country is going through. Programming specifically, as I’m sure you know, has the potential to make processes more efficient and improve our quality of life.

Sucre, you’re on time to rectify. Take down that job posting on Facebook and replace it with an inclusive version. Wake up your community manager from slumber. Take steps to ensure us, the citizens who put you in power, that you will consider men’s and women’s résumés equally.

I still believe in you. Do the right thing.

Best,

Alejandro

Alcaldía de Sucre is doing an exemplary job, but fails to grasp basic notions of gender equality. Help me reach them by tweeting at @AlcaldiaDeSucre to let them know that #LasMujeresTambiénPrograman.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Ale, it’s very good that you are writing about these things (even when some will argue that there are far worse problems to worry about out there) – Let’s not forget that sexism and classism is well embedded in the job market in Venezuela: the “buena presencia” (code for “don’t look like a thug or prostitute”), the gender specific roles… the list is long.

  2. Completely agree pana, but could it be that hiring a woman programmer might be relative more expensive than a guy, following the basis of the Organic labor law that if women get pregnant even their baby’s diapers have to be covered from your employer’s pocket?

    I still echo your concern, but have you heard from Sucre’s representatives on this issue? Regards

    • That would still be discrimination. Asking job candidates if they’re planning to have kids anytime soon is forbidden in many countries, and for good reason.

      I asked Sucre why they wanted a male programmer a week ago and, sadly, they never replied.

      • I’ve seen job posts asking for programmers that literally ask for male programmers before specifying what skills they look. It’s funny to ask in their post why is that so important and never get a reply.

      • “Asking job candidates if they’re planning to have kids anytime soon is forbidden in many countries, and for good reason.”

        Good reason? In practical terms, what difference to ask such question can possibly make? What if the woman misses the birth control pill some weeks after the conversation by accident? What if the person just lied to get the job? What if they decide to have a kid just because?

        In the real world employers just discard the applications of the genre they don’t want to hire as, say, programmers.

        In the real world employers just discard the applications of females in fertile age when they don’t want to risk paying for maternity leave.

        No questions nor genre specification are required to discard job applications.

        That’s basically the reason young females tend to be the most unemployed segment in any country, in spite of anything they create to help them. It’s no different than what we see in Venezuela today, so many laws to protect the pueblo from evil greedy yankee capitalism, and what they got was the opposite of protection, they only got destruction and hopelessness.

        • That may be what people do in practice, when there’s no way of holding them accountable. Alcaldía de Sucre, as a people’s elected body, *should* be held accountable for their hiring practices.

          Outlawing the questions doesn’t solve the problem, it only hides the sexism under the rug. What’s beyond me is the openness with which these guys are hiring just men.

      • I’m not stating that is right or wrong, simply trying to understand their motives for considering a male programmer instead of a woman. Many companies in Venezuela yet face with this discrimination each day because hiring a young woman would cost them more than hiring a male employee for the aforementioned things.

        I know that you’re a tech savy, but given that I was forced out of Caracas Chronicles, you could write another post on this issue of discrimination given the context of the Organic Labour Law in Venezuela.

        Cheerio, and I’m still echoing your remarks

    • I don’t think you are grasping the concept of discrimination. Of course women can be more expensive, not just in venezuela but almost anywhere because of maternity leave laws. That is not a proper justification for latent discrimination by a public body. Although I would be curious to hear what the Alcaldia says, I agree on that. They should have a chance to respond.

    • That probably is their reason, and that would be an unlawful/discriminatory reason. The transparency is unusual though, I will say that.

  3. Checked the alcaldia’s Facebook page and the add is not there. So they probably took it down because they realized what they’d done ……. or gave the job to a man already

  4. Yo fuera jefe de recursos humanos ahí y botaría al responsable de escribir esa línea en el anuncio, luego de haberlo obligado a que la corrigiera, por supuesto.

    Capaz que hasta pudo ser un chavizta infiltrado saboteando y tal… [/CONSPIRACY]

  5. I’ll leave here what I wrote a few days ago on Ana Zarraga’s post “Seen but not heard”:

    “I have changed my mind about this topic after reading this today in the book “Poor economics” by MIT professors Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo:

    “Can good policies be a first step to good politics? (…) In West Bengal, in GPs that had never been reserved for women leaders, 10 percent of the pradhans (posicion de gobierno en la India) in 2008 were women. Nor surprinsingly, the share jumped to 100 percent when the seats were reserved for women. But, once a seat that had been reserved went back to being open, women were more likely to be elected again: The share of women elected increased to 13 percent for currently unreserved seats that had been reserved once in the past and 17 percent if they had been reserved twice. The same thing applied to city government representatives in Mumbai. One reason for this is that voters’ attitudes towards women changed. In West Bengal, to measure prejudices about competence, villagers were asked to listen to a recording of a leader’s speech. All villagers heard the same speech but some heard it spoken in a male voice, and others in a female voice. After they heard the recording, they were asked to judge its quality. In villages that had never had reserved seats for women, and therefore had no experience of a woman leader, men who heard the ‘male’ speech gave higher approval ratings than those who heard the ‘female’ speech. On the other hand, in villages that had been reserved for women before, men tended to like the ‘female’ speech better. Men did recognize that women were capable of implementing good policies and changed their opinion of women leaders”

    Now, I still think that these measures should be taken with a grain of salt. I agree that good well designed policies can break the cycle of historically wrong situations, however it shouldn’t become the norm and never end. Once it has served its purpose it needs to go. Also, I think there should be no coercion from the government, that is no mandatory quotas for private enterprise”…

    Alcaldía de Sucre is, like Alejandro says, a democratic body. And that ad was plain discrimination.

    Still, I understand why anybody would much rather hire a man because of the pregnancy leave, breastfeeding leave laws, etc., protecting women. I’m evil I know but it’s the truth.

  6. “Sweden offers a generous 16-month parental leave which can be taken by either mothers or fathers, with two months of that set aside for dads.

    Under a fresh government proposal, mothers and fathers would each be required to take three months’ leave, or lose them. The remaining 10 months would be divided however the parents wished. “

  7. I have always found it fascinating how gender and age can be considered as potential criteria on which a candidate’s chance at being hireable in Venezuela may hinge.

    On our first trip there, my wife campaigned for us to make a move at least semi-permanently. When I brought up potential jobs for my specialized skills, we spent a rainy afternoon looking at job offerings. Lots of advertising for young female secretaries; that and the age, gender, minimum height and maximum weight requirements for flight attendants with Conviasa and Santa Barbara left me in stitches.

    Funny how a government that proclaims equality allows discrimination of one half versus the other.

  8. Ok just hold it for a second. Lets pause for just an instant and lets think this through:this is not normal.
    Not even sexist patriarchy normal, its not like you would expect a flood of female programmers just eager to get the job ( there aren’t that many to begin with, and the job is probably shit).
    If you don’t want to hire women because hurr durrr women can’t program, you can just throw the female applications to the garbage and you are done with it.

    There is a story behind this poster. Some freaking computer nerd male sex slave traffic history, or maybe the guy in charge of making the add just went ” If I allow ladies to apply, Roberto will just put his girlfriend on the job, and she thinks linux is a car brand” or maybe ” If I allow ladies to apply, Roberto will hire the hottest one and then try to F— her and we can’t have sexual harrastment suit, not when the judiary branch in a 40000 consecutive win streak for anything that looks like it will fuck us… no no no”.

  9. Not sure thinking of the extra expense and bother of hiring a women who gets pregnant after beign hired and goes on extended maternity leave is a good excuse to barr women from being considered for a job. You may be missing on hiring someone really good based on an assumption which nowadays isnt all that likely to happen , gone are the day when women were constantly pregnant and having babies , if they do choose to go the family way its usually something very carefully decided . Many career women will forego their full maternity leave because they are keen of advancing their career and can (with the help of their family) juggle being mothers and performing their job. In any event from the interview the employer to be can gauge the risks without having to make direct questions ( which would be false anyway) !!, there are some women candidates so good that even if they go on maternity leave at some period of their employment they make up for it by being excellent workers . Rather hiring one of such women than a man thats going to do a much lousier job…..!!

    The blanquet disqualification of women from a job simply because she may have a baby is silly !! every case is different and you cant barr yourself from hiring someone good because her gender may cause her to become entitled to maternity leave…..!!

    • “The blanquet disqualification of women from a job simply because she may have a baby is silly !! every case is different and you cant barr yourself from hiring someone good because her gender may cause her to become entitled to maternity leave…..!!”

      It depends on how deep is the employers’ pockets, if you own a small business in which you struggle to make ends meets every month, you certainly won’t want to hire young females that can be out for months on paid leave forcing you to hire replacements, bringing your small business to the verge of bankruptcy. Even the most bleeding heart social justice warrior will prefer reality than political correctness if he is the employer in the case aforementioned. Well, unless he prefers to close doors just “to make a point”, what would be simply stupid.

      • No quarrel with that , the decision to hire has to factor in the economic capacity of a business to bear the cost of employees taking maternity leave when they are needed to protect the bottom line , but every case is different, there are women who because of their age or personal circumstance arent very likely to seek pregnancy and whose skills are up to the best standards . The point is to allow them to file their application and be interviewed so the employer can decide whether the risk is low and the business can gain by employing them . This means never to barr them from seeking the job but to use the interview to screen them for their personal conditions and then deciding whether the decision to hire them is one that can be taken …..

  10. This is probably unconstitutional and shows the type of mentality that still exists in Venezuela. Here was to discriminate based on sex, but I have seen discrimination based on age, or appearance (buena presencia).

  11. Aplausos clap clap clap Alejandro and @CaracasChronicles for this! As a character trully admired by Francisco Toro says… You (we) did it!!!

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