Throughout the years, the technology field has made many leaps in improving our daily lives, and while this is admirable, many do not acknowledge the fact that women oftentime face gender discrimination in this male dominated field.
Recently, tech startups in China have been seeking out more female employees for their offices; however, their focus has been on hiring women to bring more fun to the office rather than hiring them to write code. According to a New York Times report, this new job is called “programming motivating,” and women are tasked with creating calming work environment for the computer science employees.
While tech companies (especially in Silicon Valley) are known for their fun working environments that indulge their coders every need; in China the role of the programming motivator has taken job perks to a whole other level that borders misogyny.
To be considered for the role of a programming motivator, women must be attractive, know how to apply makeup, be taller than 5 feet 2 inches, have a contagious laugh, have good therapeutic skills, and know how to plan social events — all so that the coders at these startups can be at ease. The daily job of a programming motivator includes: giving massages, ordering snacks and food for the coders, and listening to male programmers complain about their work stresses and frustrations.
“They really need someone to talk to them from time to time and to organize activities for them to ease some of the pressure,” said Shen Yue, a 25-year-old programmer motivator working at Chinafin.com.
The low blow of it all is that many of the women who get hired as “programming motivators” have college degrees, including Ms. Shen who holds a degree in civil engineering from a university in Beijing.
A female programmer at Chinafin.com who uses Ms. Shen’s programming motivator services does not see anything wrong with the job, but does believe that there could be more male programming motivators — which shows just how rare female coders are at tech companies, so much so that only female programming motivators are needed.
Programming motivators also act as incentives that attract male coders because programmers are in high demand in China. Feng Zhiyi, a 31-year-old who works in research and development at Chainfin.com, felt “envious” after seeing photos of programming motivators online doing tasks like massaging and fanning male coders. Now that there is a programming motivator at Chainfin.com he is pleased.
But not everyone agrees with the growing presence of programming motivators. Some in the Chinese tech field believe that the practice of hiring female programming motivators objectify women; and moreover, is a form of gender discrimination, especially when job advertisements for tech companies mention the beautiful women hired at their companies to lure coders.
At the end of the day, women need more representation in the STEM field as a whole. It seems as though the world is starting to address issues of objectification and misogyny in the workplace, and hopefully the role of the “programming motivator” will be eliminated entirely from Chinese tech start ups, and more female coders will be hired instead.