Efforts to assist minorities to achieve parity are sometimes labelled as positive or reverse discrimination. For example, an effort to do outreach to women and recruit them to a software project may be described as reverse sexism.
The problems with claims of "reverse sexism" include:
- Men may be complaining that a privilege they have is being eroded; there is an expectation that the vast majority of attention, effort, and resources will be given to them, and any diminution of this is cause for complaint.
- Accusations of "reverse sexism" are used as an attempt to derail conversations, or to silence women.
- "Reverse sexism" claims are often disproportionate, or used to obscure larger problems. For instance, in an environment where there are 99 things that marginalise women, and one that marginalises men, loud and vigorous complaints of "reverse sexism" may be made, without any reference to the relative scale of the alleged sexism.
- The term itself is silly. "Reverse sexism" would be sexism in reverse; that is, equal and fair treatment regardless of gender.
Here are some examples of men claiming "reverse sexism" regarding women in geek communities:
- Is BlogHer Conference Guilty of Sex Discrimination? by Michael Grey
- "To those organizers I challenge them to look in the mirror and realize that you’ve now become the same evil and sexist pigs you started out with the goal of overcoming."
- Google EMEA conference grants for female computer scientists: First comment, Frank Ch. Eigler: "At least the sexism is privately rather than publicly funded."
- Left Behind: A male reader (post-doc) writes to the blogger Female Science Professor complaining that he felt discriminated against by receiving an email that invited only women to a dinner.
- Grievances about Etsy's "Hacker School" with grants for women applicants (regarding this press release )
- LWN thread about GNOME Women's Outreach Program