Overcompensating

In 1850 people said “There are real differences between men and women. That’s why women don’t need to be educated.”

In 1900 people said “There are real differences between men and women. That’s why women don’t need to vote.”

In 1950 people said “There are real differences between men and women. We don’t have women in the workplace because they don’t want to be in the workplace.”

In 1970 people said “There are real differences between men and women. Women get paid less because they’d rather spend more time with their families.” (And they’re still saying that today.)

Today people say “There are real differences between men and women. The reason there are so few women in computer science/engineering/open source is that they are naturally less suited to these occupations.”

Historically, people aiming for a society that reflects the “real differences” between men and women tend to find that they’re already there, no more effort needed. Then (after a whole lot of effort) the situation changes, and we live in a new society that supposedly reflects those real differences. Funny how that works.

“Real differences” function as a defense of the status quo. If we want real change, we need to aim for something totally unreasonable: a society in which there are no differences between men and women whatsoever. If we discover a barrier to that which remains after several decades of sustained, focussed effort - well, we can rethink things then.