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Case 139

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It had been many weeks since master Suku and her three novices set out from the Temple of the Morning Brass Gong across the great mountains to the west. The first warm winds of spring greeted the party as they arrived at the Temple of the Thrown Coin, whose monks built social-media-enabled websites for the wealthy merchants of their province. Here, Suku would teach her art of creating maintainable code, while in return the Thrown Coin would share the secret riches of their technology stack.

One of the two novice monks in Suku’s charge observed that the monks of the Thrown Coin attended closely to his words, treating him with the regard one might bestow upon a visiting dignitary. But when the same words were spoken by Suku, the monks of the Thrown Coin either raised their eyebrows skeptically or lowered their gaze to fiddle with cellphones and tablets. They did likewise when the novice nun spoke.

It was then that the novice monk noticed the almost complete absence of women from the Temple of the Thrown Coin. Only a few nuns could he spy as he cast his eyes around the lecture-hall. All appeared to be of low rank, and they asked no questions.

- - -

At breakfast next morning the novice monk sat next to one of the senior abbots.

“Why are there so few women in this temple?” asked the novice monk.

“Because very few girls apply for admittance anymore,” replied the abbot.

“Why is that?” asked the novice monk.

“Because it is widely known that most girls do not meet our rigorous standards,” replied the abbot.

“Why is that?” asked the novice monk.

“Because productivity requires harmony, and many female applicants are a poor fit for our culture,” replied the abbot. “Indeed, most have wasted the time we invested in them by leaving soon after arriving.”

“Why is that?” asked the novice monk.

“Because they were unhappy here, and did not work well with the monks,” replied the abbot.

“Why is that?” asked the novice monk.

“Because like so many great temples, the culture of this temple is a boy’s culture: rough and rude, cruel and crude, in work and in play,” replied the abbot.

“Why is that?” asked the novice monk.

“Because there are so few women in this temple,” replied the abbot.