Category Archives: issues

Sanitized application forms

Leo Querubin of PCS sent me another set of application forms, saying

These were the original apps forms.

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For comparison, the form I received in a forward is here:


I like how the rules are no longer included so that they have more time to make up their mind. I like how the form does not mention the controversial prize of P 25,000 (look! the average monthly salary of an IT professional!) or the form of the contest.

It is entirely possible that there really was just a simple misunderstanding.

It is entirely impossible for everyone to believe that.

It is also probably impossible for them to reach everyone the first forwarded form(s) reached. They have opened up a can of worms, and they cannot neatly stuff all the worms back in.

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PCS has found their spin: It’s a search for future C?Os

Looks like PCS is pushing through with Digital Pinay 2005. Their spin? They're searching for future female chief executive officers, so 60% personality (in terms of appearance, popularity and poise) makes perfect sense.

Indeed it does. After all, they're looking for future managers, and managers really do need soft skills. So that's their market. They're not trying to define a good IT professional in terms of technical wizardry. This is MIS.

They're not saying you have to be pretty to be a good geek. They're saying you have to be pretty—este, personable—in order to be a good manager. Which is all too true and we're used to that, I guess.

I wonder if they'll ask the contestants in the "Search for the Most Outstanding CIO" to model sportswear. I still think that if you're looking for future leaders, you should ask them to make speeches instead of strut around in several different kinds of clothes. You should ask them to make a difference in their community.

I also don't think we lose our femininity by focusing on ideas and accomplishments. In fact, we express it by not highlighting it, not making it the center of attention. I want more attention paid to the fact that we get results through taking risks and working hard than to the accident of our gender.

Anyway. It's their org. It's their money and it's their name. At least they've clarified their position. I have a feeling there's nothing more I can do about that. We're talking about completely different things.

You know what my problem is? I keep thinking that the C in PCS means they're even vaguely related to the stuff we do. But right, right, they're business-related, and that's a completely different world. I just have to remember that. I really should remember that PCS is a professional organization, and their definition of IT is very different from our definition of IT.

You know what? I think I'll stay out of the corporate world. I love teaching. I love showing people that they can do anything they want to do in IT. I love hacking on open source. I don't want to have to dress up in a suit to work on something cool with other people.

I guess it's time to resume life. I have things to hack on.

Thanks to everyone who listened.

PCS to push through with Digital Pinay 2005 -

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Press conference today, PCS pushing through with Digital Pinay 2005

PCS is expected to confirm its resolve to push through with the controversial "Digital Pinay 2005" contest at a press conference to be held today at 3:30 PM at AIM's ACCEED center.

They say that the contest is a search for future chief executive officers and chief information officers, and have decided to keep their original criteria: 20% popularity (text votes, another revenue-generator), 20% personality (sound bites in the question and answer portion), and 20% poise (modeling business wear, formal wear and sports wear). Oh, right, and 40% intelligence and achievements, but since that's all evaluated behind the scenes, we'll only get to see the 60% part.

They also deny that it's a beauty pageant and claim they never intended it to be one. And oh, oops, the first application form was a complete mistake—they didn't mean to send *that* version to the press mailing list. They *really* meant to send these sanitized application forms: ../personal/digitalpinay-coed.doc and ../personal/digitalpinay-pro.doc. So they'd like to tell all you outraged bloggers that you're barking up the wrong tree. It really isn't a beauty pageant. Even if there's a "Coronation Night" competition where people are judged on how they wear clothes instead of, say, their business plans or their ability to give presentations. Even if there's a text voting thing.

All I can say is that if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck...


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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

My mother would be the last person to say she's beautiful. She'd say she's short, or she has gray hair and wrinkles. She wears make-up, but she doesn't spend hours putting a face on every day and she doesn't buy fancy clothes. She's too busy as the general manager of Adphoto to get much beauty sleep, and sees nothing wrong with trekking around in comfortable shoes. I think she's beautiful.

My former grade school principal, Lala Castillo, had wrinkles around her eyes that showed how much she smiled. I never saw her dressed in sharp business suits. I think she was always in flowing skirts or sensible pants. She knew all of us by name. As a child, I wondered if I could just skip being an adult and be old and wise like she was. I think she's beautiful.

Didith Rodrigo, the chair of the computer science department, is not one for beauty pageants. I don't think she wears make-up. But she made us feel welcome. She knew what she was talking about, and she could explain herself very clearly. She was also a great listener. I think she's beautiful.

If PCS wants to judge on "beauty"—which basically means how much does a woman resemble advertisements—then they risk closing their eyes to the real gems, people who can _really_ inspire others.

As for me, I'm going to stay in my own little world where results matter more than appearances, where ordinary people become beautiful when you get to know them.

I'm glad that I'm not spectacular. At least that way, I don't have to worry about people speculating about my breast size, unlike one of my friends who occasionally has to put up with that despite being a brilliant physicist. At least that way, I know people pay attention to my ideas and not just to my body.

I still feel a little insecure from time to time. Am I where I am just because I'm a girl, just because I was in the right place at the right time? Would I have gotten as far if people didn't make a fuss over the fact that ooh, look, a girl's _really_ into tech?

Then I go online and talk to people who don't know anything about me, people who even assume I'm a guy until the regulars laugh and correct them, and I realize that I'm good enough on my own.

That's an assurance the DigitalPinay winners might not have, because they'll wonder: was I hired because my resume was good and I can really make a difference, or was I hired because I won a beauty pageant?

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The dust settles

Sean, Clair (Post 1, Post 2, Post 3), and Xenia have all blogged the results of the press conference held by the Philippine Computer Society last 2005.01.21 .

I think we've reached an acceptable compromise. The Philippine Computer Society is dropping the offensive beauty-pageant-like parts of "Digital Pinay 2005" and they've clarified their position.

If the contest is clearly marked as a search for future managers, I think it will not negatively affect the image people have of the technical side of things.

I still believe there are more effective ways to get an idea of someone's leadership potential than through text voting or clothes modelling. Presentations and business case analyses could give contestants a more realistic idea of what skills will be useful in their professional lives. Women who can speak and write well will be far more effective leaders than those chosen on the basis of looks or on the number of friends who are willing to sink money into a text popularity campaign. Then again, all contests make some kind of simplification. As the organizer, PCS decides what to search for.

I think it is time to let PCS figure out what to do with their concept. Perhaps they'll make it a success; perhaps they'll have problems fulfilling their admirable goals. Whatever happens, we have all learned much from the experience. We have learned the power of protest, and perhaps PCS has learned to be a little more careful. (At the very least, it knows it needs better public relations.)

I believe that "Digital Pinay 2005" can be a good idea if handled well. PCS has invited influential women like Sun head Cynthia Mamon to judge contestants. If these judges could make time in their busy schedules to guide the winners, perhaps having lunch every other week or even just once a month, then the winners of "Digital Pinay 2005" would win far more than monthly participation in PCS activities. They would gain guidance and mentorship.

I do not regret speaking up about this. I do not regret going public with my opposition to the original form that circulated through e-mail. I do not regret pointing out the deficiencies in the original contest structure. I do not believe this was something that could be handled quietly. PCS needed to clarify its position not only to those of us noisy enough to complain about it but also to other people who might have received only the form. I am glad that the furor caused by this has revealed that most people won't take this kind of nonsense.

In the course of checking this out and keeping track of the activity through my shared bookmarks, I have met so many wonderful people through their blogs. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. Let's get together on a couple of projects—that summer camp idea looks like a good start, and I'd gladly volunteer time for that.

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PCS cancels Digital Pinay contest, cites violent reactions

Check out Philippine Computer Society cancels 'Digital Pinay' tilt for PCS' announcement.

Asked what he has learned from the experience, Querubin said: "Well, actually a lot. One is that people really think differently. I was very surprised at the public briefing that some people apparently feel that others don?t have the right to use a word [such as] ?digital? differently from the way they use it.

Hmm. Apparently, they managed to annoy more than just us crazy bloggers. Who'd have thought?

The organizers added that threats to splash acid on the contestants and flood the contest's e-mail address with spurious application forms, also contributed to their decision to cancel the event.

Splashing acid on contestants isn't our kind of thing, although the _organizers_, now... *ahem*. No, no, we're not into physical damage. We'd be happy to flood their e-mail box or otherwise inconvenience PCS, but we don't cross over into meatspace. Definitely some other angry group. What fun.

Asked what he has learned from the experience, Querubin said: "Well, actually a lot. One is that people really think differently. I was very surprised at the public briefing that some people apparently feel that others don't have the right to use a word [such as] "digital" differently from the way they use it.

Now that is a rather strong spin.

I know the people who went to the public briefing. They're nice, rational people who were willing to give PCS a chance. We might not like the way PCS just throws around the word "digital", but we said it might be very misleading, not completely wrong for PCS to use.

That's probably just because we're more in tune with geeks today than they are.

Anyway, good riddance to that Digital Pinay thing. I hope they go back to focusing on the national programming contest, and I hope they do it better this time. I did that schtick throughout high school. Great experience, although PCS screwed up every now and then too.

(Psst! They have a professional category! Reunion, anyone?)

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